ttp://www.daily-mail.co.zm” class=”f”>Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 6/9/13
By YANDE SYAMPEYO
ATTORNEY General Mumba Malila has described as “wild and disturbing” assertions by the Law Association of Zambia that immigration officers’ decision to stop former President Rupiah Banda from travelling to South Africa was illegal and bordered on contempt of court.
Last Friday, Mr Banda was blocked from leaving the country by immigration officers at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka as Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu maintained that the former President may tamper with “evidence” and “witnesses” abroad.
And Mr Malila said in an interview yesterday that LAZ should have consulted his office or any other relevant authority before rushing to issue a “wild and disturbing” statement.
“It clearly shows that they did not research properly. They should have asked us what was happening,” Mr Malila said of LAZ.
He said if LAZ cared to consult, they could have realised that the court order to release Mr Banda’s passport to enable him travel and the reasons advanced by the State to block Mr Banda’s trip, are two different issues.
Mr Malila said law enforcement agencies are still investigating Mr Banda on other cases apart from those he is appearing in court for, hence his travel could have been prejudicial to on-going investigations.
“So, the reasons advanced by the investigations team not to allow Mr Banda to travel have nothing to do with the court order. There is no relation between the two issues,” Mr Malila said.
Meanwhile, the Open Society Foundation says members of the public should weigh the reasons advanced by the Ministry of Home Affairs not to allow Mr Banda to travel to South Africa.
Foundation executive director Sunday Chanda said in a statement yesterday that people should not rush to condemn Government but consider the prospects and consequences of allowing Mr Banda to travel out of the country as he currently faces charges of alleged corruption and abuse of authority of office.
“We further wish to contribute to the debate around Mr Banda’s travel embargo and argue that all commentators on the subject matter ought to do so within the context of existing laws and Article 22 of the Constitution of Zambia in particular as it caters for the right to freedom of movement and instances where this right can be restricted by the State,” Mr Chanda said.
He said the public should be mindful that the Ministry of Home Affairs and other investigative wings have a constitutional duty to secure national interests as specialised agencies.
“Our proposal is for more collaboration between specialised agencies and the judiciary to avoid conflict and unnecessary misunderstandings in the public space,” he said.
The former president has since taken immigration officials to court for blocking his trip to South Africa.