Zambians should continue to maintain peace and harmony even in the face of extreme provocation, says former President Rupiah Banda.
Mr Banda who yesterday presented himself before the Patriotic Front (PF) government Joint Investigative Team at the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC said Zambians have a duty and responsibility to safeguard the peace and tranquility the country has enjoyed since independence.
Addressing scores of Movement for Multiparty for Democracy (MMD) members and United Party for National Development(UDNP) sympathizers who thronged the DEC offices, Mr Banda said peace and harmony were supreme for the country’s fragile democracy.
Mr Banda, the immediate past republican president arrived at the DEC offices at about 10:30 hours amid tight security and was with the investigative team for about three hours before he came out and addressed the people.
Mr Banda managed to address the sympathizers amid confusion caused by the police who did not want the former head of state to talk to the people including journalists.
Mr Banda’s official vehicle was for more than 20 minutes blocked at the junction between Government and Jacaranda roads as police attempted to stop the former president from walking from the point where MMD cadres were gathered singing solidarity songs.
It had to take Mr Banda himself to plead with the police to allow him to walk and in his humble style, the former president walked for the remaining 200 meters from where his official vehicle was blocked looking jovial and relaxed.
“Please, I want to appeal to you and all Zambians to remain calm. Let us keep the peace and harmony even under serious provocation. I want to thank Zambians everywhere for the support and love they have shown. I can offer nothing but to thank Zambians,” Mr Banda said.
Mr Banda said while he was aware that he would soon start going to court, it was important that Zambians remained calm as he would be consulting various authorities during the court process.
Mr Banda said he anticipated that the court process would be a long battle and that he was ready to go through it until to the logical conclusion of the matters.
Patriotic Front Members of Parliament on Friday resolved to remove Mr Banda’s immunity from prosecution and on Saturday, the Joint Investigative Team summoned the former president to present himself at the DEC offices.
Opposition Members of Parliament had strongly objected to the manner Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba presented the motion to Parliament arguing that government was breaking the law as the matter was in court.
The opposition MPs walked out of Parliament because they did not want to legitimatize a process that was by law flawed but the PF MPs went ahead and voted for the removal of Mr Banda’s immunity.
The resolution to remove Mr Banda’s immunity was based on a number of allegations among which were the procurement of campaign materials such as branded bulbs, chitenge materials, bicycles and the personal property, Mpundu Trust where the former First Lady Tandiwe Banda is the director. Mr Banda said the investigative team had not concluded their work with him and that he would today be returning to DEC offices for the continuation of their probing.
And the legal team representing Mr Banda, Sakwiba Sikota, Professor Patrick Mvunga and Ireen Kunda yesterday objected to moves by the investigative team to start questioning Mr Banda stating that government had already spelled out the allegations against their client.
Sources from within the investigative team said the lawyers advised that the officers should instead look at the allegations that were presented to parliament by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba.
The source said the lawyers advised that the investigative team should instead go straight into the warn and caution statement based on the allegations that were tabled in parliament.