Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito yesterday failed to answer a question from former President Rupiah Banda on whether the cases he was prosecuting him for were genuine.
This was shortly after Mr Nchito arrived in court for ruling on the preliminary issues raised by Mr Banda’s defence team to ascertain whether the charges that Mr Banda was slapped with were valid because there was no law at that time to back them.
Mr Banda admonished Mr Nchito to show proper traditional etiquette when addressing elders who were seated.
This was after Nchito entered the court room and literally stood in Mr Banda’s face who was already seated. Mr Banda then asked to asked the DPP after he sat down “Mr Nchito do you believe that the cases you are prosecution me on are genuine?”
A stunned Mr Nchito just looked at the former head of state with a smile but said nothing in reply..
The court was yesterday supposed to give a ruling on the matter which has since been deferred to April 22 as the Chief Magistrate Joshua Banda who is currently handling the matter was attending the National Convention on the Constitution.
And opposition NAREP president Elias Chipimo Jnr said that it was clear that the fears that the people of Zambia had about witch hunting against Mr Banda have been vindicated.
Mr Chipimo said this after revelation by the Chinese firm that the nine trucks that Mr Banda was facing charges on were donated to government and not as personal gratification to Mr Banda.
“You can see what has transpired. The current court case against Mr Banda is quickly beginning to look as though it is on very shaky ground. You can see this from the incompetent manner in which the charge sheet was prepared to the uncertainty of charging somebody with an offence that was not an offence at the time it was alleged to have been committed.
“Because of the uncertainty around the current case, the DPP’s office will now be scratching around for anything that they think might lead to a successful prosecution hence the continued questioning and pressing of new charges,” Chipimo said.
The opposition leader said the acts of desperation would vindicate those who had always suspected that the action against the former president was designed to divert attention from the failures of the current administration.
He said the hasty removal of the immunity was also meant to address the fear that Mr Banda could be planning a return to active politics and given the way certain politicians were now cozying up to him this could not be ruled out.
Mr Chipimo charged that if the PF administration were sincere in the quest to lift Mr Banda’s immunity, they would have concentrated on the allegations which were put before Parliament.
“As NAREP we have always advocated the introduction of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Corruption that would be answerable to parliament and would hold public hearings on official corruption. Prosecutions that would arise from this process would be less likely to be seen as being politically motivated,” Chipimo said.