RB sues immigration officials

Rupiah Banda

FORMER President Rupiah Banda has taken immigration officials to court after being stopped from travelling to South Africa yesterday.
And the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says steps taken by immigration officers to stop Mr Banda from travelling abroad are not only illegal but they directly border on contempt of court.
Mr Banda was stopped 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 leader may tamper with “evidence” and “witnesses” abroad.
Mr Banda has asked the Lusaka High Court to commit to jail Immigration Department director general Moola Milomo and officer Peter Mwansa for disrespecting a court order.
And reacting to the airport incident, LAZ said: “It is incumbent upon the Government as party to the proceedings to unconditionally comply with the ruling of the court.
“LAZ is not in any doubt that the advocates representing Mr Banda being senior members of the bar will take the necessary steps provided for in the law which are designed at ensuring that the law visits upon the perpetrators of this clear contempt of court.”
Mr Banda, who arrived at the airport at about 06:45 hours, was ushered into the VIP lounge, where immigration officers told him that he would not leave.
Later in an interview, Mr Lungu said, “Mr Banda has to remain in close proximity with investigators and the decision to halt his travel plans is totally unrelated to the court proceedings…the court matters are dealt with by the DPP while the investigations are driven by the police.”
The former President, facing corruption charges, reacted angrily to the order and said: “If they think I will run away from Zambia, I cannot because Zambia is my home.”
Seemingly shocked, he said he handed over power peacefully to President Sata because he wanted peace to prevail in Zambia.
Asked where the former first lady Thandiwe, who was seen boarding a South African Airways plane, was going, Mr Banda screamed at the reporter, demanding that his wife and children be left alone because they are not criminals.
“Why are you asking about my wife? Is she a criminal? What has she got to do with this issue? Leave my wife and my children alone because they are not criminals.
“My dear don’t be too excited about the little salary you are getting at the end of the month.”
When they were shown a court order signed by Lusaka High Court judge-in-charge Jane Kabuka who released Mr Banda’s passport, the immigration officers said they understood what the order said but could not allow Mr Banda to proceed.
Mr Banda, who was received at the airport by MMD Solwezi Central member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa and his administrative assistant Mikatazo Wakumelo accused Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and The Post editor-in-chief Fred M’membe of blocking him from travelling out of the country.
He also called for Mr Nchito’s resignation and challenged the DPP to declare interest in his cases.
“Mutembo Nchito must also stop prosecuting this case because there is no way he can be a prosecutor and at the same time a persecutor,” Mr Banda said.
He said the action of immigration authorities is “in total disregard of the entire court and judicial process in Zambia” which handed him his passport as he is not a security risk who is likely to run away.
“Being blocked from travelling is a total disregard of the judiciary. The decision of the judiciary has been flouted. It is very sad that The Post wrote an editorial comment trying to influence the judiciary. M’membe must not be involved in this case”, Mr Banda said.
He also accused President Sata of trying to draw him back into active politics.
And deputy administrative assistant to Mr Banda, Kennedy Limwanya said chief immigration officer Moola Milomo failed to give a satisfactory reason as to why he instructed his officers to stop Mr Banda from going to South Africa.
In April, Mr Banda was blocked at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport as he was about to board a Kenya Airways plane to attend the inauguration of that country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
Yesterday, Mr Banda was expected to leave for South Africa to attend the 2013 African presidential roundtable meeting.
The Boston University African Presidential Centre had re-booked the flight of the former head of state on yesterday’s South African Airways departing Lusaka at 07:15 hours because the last flight on Thursday had already left by the time his passport was released.
Mr Banda’s slot at the discussion had been moved to yesterday and was expected to, among other things, moderate a session under the subject Making government work.
Other notable personalities attending the African presidential roundtable meeting are former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, former Tanzanian president Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Martin Luther King Jnr, a professor of ethical leadership at Boston University.
The former acting president Edgar Lungu has insisted that as a man of means and given the gravity of criminal charges against him, “Mr Banda has the ability to contaminate the investigations once abroad and that cannot be allowed but every application he makes will be judged on its own merit without prejudice.”