The highly-charged trial of ex-president Rupiah Banda on corruption charges has been adjourned to Friday after his lawyers argued that there were errors on the charge sheet. Prominent on the errors was that Mr Banda was president of Zambia on May 1, 2008 when the alleged offence was committed.
Mr Banda was officially announced president of Zambia on November 2, 2008.
The former president last week pleaded not guilty to a charge of abuse of office involving a Nigerian crude oil contract to benefit himself and his family while in office.
But his lawyers led by Eric Silwamba argued that ‘Abuse of Office’ was not an offence in Zambia at the time Mr Banda was president.
DPP Mutembo Nchito who decided to personally prosecute the former president argued that Banda was acting president on May 1, 2008 because late Levy Mwanawasa was out of the country. But Mr Banda’s lawyers asked Nchito how he knew that it was not George Mpombo who was acting president. They asked him to produce evidence.
On the ‘Abuse of office’ charge which Banda’s lawyers said was not on the statute books during Banda’s tenure, Nchito said the offence has now been put on the statutes books and therefore Mr Banda can be charged under it.
“Looking at the submission of both parties, I suggest we reconvene on Friday,” magistrate Joshua Banda told the court.
The Watchdog last time contended that Mutembo Nchito is a very dull lawyer. We are unable to find any significant, non political case which Mutembo has won. For example, everyone knows that Rupiah Banda was not president of Zambia on May 1, 2008.
And from what we know, such seemingly minor errors can actually spoil a case and a guilty person can actually walk to freed because of such.