Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito should have stepped aside from prosecuting former president Rupiah Banda and should not have allowed Magistrate Obbister Musukwa to refer the matter to the High Court for constitutional determination, Alliance for a Better Zambia (ABZ) president Frank Bwalya has said.
Fr Bwalya said Mr Nchito should have considered recusing himself from prosecuting president Banda soon after the former head of state accused him of having personal interest in his (president Banda) prosecution.
Fr Bwalya said Mr Nchito should have demonstrated that he actually had no personal interest by voluntarily allowing other prosecutors from the DPP chambers to take over president Banda’s cases soon after he had been accused of having an interest in the prosecution.
The ABZ leader said the fact that Mr Nchito had insisted to continue prosecuting president Banda has raised eyebrows.
He said while he fully supported president Banda’s demands that Mr Nchito should stop prosecuting him, it was not for him (Fr Bwalya) to agree with the former head of state that the DPP had personal interest in the cases he (president Banda) was facing.
“As ABZ, we think that Mr Nchito should not have allowed this matter to go to the High Court. He should have just stepped aside when president Banda accused him of having an interest in his prosecution. Mr Nchito should have demonstrated that he actually had no personal interest in prosecuting Mr Banda by voluntarily allowing other prosecutors from the DPP chambers to take over the case. The fact that he has insisted to prosecute president Banda raises eyebrows. But it is not for me to agree with president Banda that Mr Nchito has personal interest in this matter. But I fully support president Banda on demands for his constitutional rights for a fair trial,” Fr Bwalya said.
Fr Bwalya said the former president was entitled to justice and fair hearing and that when he raised fears that he would not be able to receive a fair trial, everything should have been done to ensure that such fears were cleared.
He said such an important principle of justice should not be applied to president Banda only but that it should be accorded to every citizen because the law was always perceived to be just.
Fr Bwalya said his party was happy that the judiciary and specifically Magistrate Musukwa had made a courageous and commendable ruling by referring president Banda’s fears to the High Court for determination.
He said the kind of activism exhibited by the judiciary on matters that bordered on president Banda’s trial should be commended and encouraged as a way of guaranteeing justice in the country.
Fr Bwalya said it was from the above background that ABZ was praying for more sensible and courageous rulings and judgments from the judiciary.
“Former president Rupiah Banda is entitled to justice and fair hearing and therefore, when the former head of state raided fears that he may not receive fair trial, everything should be done to ensure that such fears are cleared. It is not only for Mr Banda that this important principle of justice should apply. Against this background, ABZ is very happy that our judiciary specifically Magistrate Obbister Musukwa has made a courageous and commendable ruling to refer the matter to the High Court for determination of constitutional issues that boarder on Mr Banda having a fair trial. This kind of activism on the part of the judiciary should be commended and encouraged as a way of guaranteeing justice in our land,” Fr Bwalya said.