Young Leaders Alliance on Henry Banda and his lawyers

The Young Leaders Alliance (YOLA)

                    Press statement

The saga of Henry Banda and the Zambian law enforcement agencies ought to be looked at from a broader perspective and it is of necessity that sufficient reason and level headedness prevails over this issue as it continues to grow in both dimension and general importance to the governance of our country. Whereas the strict contention has been about Henry’s decision to be stay away from the Zambian jurisdiction for fear that he may be subject of a speculated plot to have him persecuted, it may be of help for us as a country to address ourselves to possible ramifications of Henry’s elusiveness and even the impact of the country keeping him on bilateral relations.

As a matter of background to our statement, it is important to expressly state that the Young Leaders Alliance finds Henry’s decision to stay from the country and ignore the initial attempts that were aimed at having him for questioning undesirable. His posturing against the law enforcement agencies is strictly unwarranted as he is under the Zambian legal system presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved if and when the Zambian law enforcement agencies opt to charge him and take him to court. In line with the foregoing Henry has in the recent few days via his counsel Robert Amsterdam stated that his discomfort with coming to Zambia is largely on account of his fear of being targeted for political persecution as part of a plot that is somehow cripple the MMD; without delving in the quality of Amsterdam’s logic in the foregoing, we thought we would comment on the alleged persecution of opponents driven by the PF.

Firstly as an organization, we will readily and aggressively oppose any attempts aimed at persecuting anybody on account of either political affiliation or mere loose alignment with a given political party. Now in view of Amsterdam’s contention that Henry stands no credible charge other than politically concocted charges by the government, it is of help that we address ourselves to the conduct of the PF government hitherto.

Firstly, with very cool heads how many Zambians today are of the view that Henry and many people cannot be held to have had undue advantage with respect to getting government deals during his Father’s tenure of office? How many people would conscientious hold that Henry is only targeted as a consequence of an alleged vindictive government? As an organization, we further gather that it would be of necessity to look at what MMD old stalwart like Vernon Mwaanga said about the Banda presidency vis-à-vis his family. In that book, VJ posits that part of Banda’s undoing was that he was surrounding by a bunch of children who had an increased appetite for wealth. Could this be the reason why deals such the valuation and later sale of Zamtel are laced with the name of one Henry Banda? What about the issue of the deal awarded to the Kenyan company Dalbit Petroleum to supply fuel to Zambia allegedly Henry driven, does this ring a bell?

As an organization, we do not in any way want to be perceived as making an attempt to prosecute Henry in the media but are extremely interested in seeing the rule of law reign supreme regardless of the status of one who is involved. In our view the law is faceless and presumes everybody equal in its eyes and that is why as a country we could have a former president answering charges before the courts of law.

Of primacy is also the need for our people to be alive that due attention was given to Henry’s position in adding our voice to this issue and we have found his position a little difficult to understand. We firmly hold that any law enforcement agency in this country has got the right to invite any Zambian citizen in the course of exercising the duties if they believe it would be of necessity to whatever they are undertaking in the interest of the general citizenry at any given point and Mr. Banda is a citizen like any other citizen.

Apart from the foregoing, we have observed that this issue has the potency of leading to strained diplomatic relations between Zambia and South Africa given the conduct of the government of South Africa. A few weeks ago, in addressing the question of Henry, the South African High Commissioner to Zambia did state that his country by law does not extradite persons to countries that practice the law of death sentence…now we wonder if His excellence thinks Henry is possibly standing any charge that is punishable by death sentence may be his perusal of our statutes would be of help to him. The major trouble we see with Henry’s approach to his legal problems is his inclination to use politics to rebut that charges and this is somehow unsustainable and it is leading to a perception that he could be in panic mode.

His approach may throw him in confusion as may be evidenced from the approach that his counsel has taken. He raises a thousand of issues most of which are irrelevant to the defence required by his client. Some of the anomalies with Amsterdam’s approach may include the following:

o   Instead of pre-occupying himself with charges that Henry is highly likely to face, Amsterdam has opted to politick about how the PF campaigned including their source of financing. He has for instance made unfair and misguided sweeping statements about suspected PF financiers an act which is unrelated to charges Henry might face and has stated his intention to investigate the source of PF’s financing.  This is effectively a defective approach to defending his client. Let’s assume his speculations about PF financing were proved, how would that be of help to the many allegations Henry is going to face like his alleged role in the dubious granting of valuation contract for Zamtel to RP Capital? It is spectacularly absurd.

o   Whereas Amsterdam’s approach of political advocacy to representing his clients may have worked out in other countries, it is important to note that this is only workable for countries that are not reputed to be governed by the rule of law. Zambia is a recognised democracy on the other hand with a government elected by the people themselves and a credible judiciary. Think about the number of parliamentary seats that the PF petitioned in the courts how may have they won? Are we not seeing the election of some of the key MMD figures upheld by the courts of law?

o   In trying to discredit the PF government’s approach to fighting corruption, Amsterdam has also tried to belittle some of the charges faced by some of the MMD leaders such as allegations of stolen bicycles. For Amsterdam theft of bicycles worth millions of kwacha and bought at tax payer’s expense constitutes trivial charges and political persecutions, whereas we know that in our country there are people who are in jail today for theft of a basic cell-phone. We this kind of reasoning, we simply reckon Amsterdam’s tools of analysis to be largely defective.

o   When everybody else thought Henry Banda had got himself a prime lawyer, Amsterdam has largely done nothing but petty politicking and has lamentably failed to address possible charges that Henry is posed to face. We wonder if it’s going to help to waste time discrediting a government instead of having time in court and fully rebut and discredit the charges placed. We thought it would be proper for him to apply to LAZ today so as to enable him practice law in Zambia and come prove that Henry is actually facing baseless charges.

With the above said, we would like the government to effectively pursue this matter at the highest level diplomatically so that the fight against corruption which is deemed central to this government proceeds unfettered. For us as an association, Henry’s appearance to before law enforcement agencies is a must and he should with immediate effect act responsible and come back to the country he is alleged to have looted.

Sent to Watchdog by Pharaoh Mwanza

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