Rupiah Banda finally given a greenlight to travel to South Africa

Rupiah Banda
Rupiah Banda

AFTER hitting the brick-wall a number of times, former President Rupiah Banda has finally been given a greenlight to travel to South Africa, where he is seeking medical attention, but conditions apply.
Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu, who confirmed Mr Banda’s ‘green light’ in an interview, said Government took a ‘calculated risk’ in allowing Mr Banda—previously described as a flight risk—to travel based on a health appeal and court intervention.
“The man [Mr Banda] has told us that he is unwell, so we have to weigh issues here,” Mr Lungu. “Do we stop him from travelling and then God forbid something happens to harm his health? You let him loose and just hope and pray that he will honour his word?”
Added Mr Lungu, “Those are the two issues we had to weigh and after the court decision…we had little choice but to allow him to travel since he said the medical attention he seeks can only be found abroad in South Africa.”
Mr Lungu, however, cautioned Mr Banda not to emulate his son Henry and decide to stay away from a myriad on-going trials before the courts of law where he has been charged with corruption, which he has denied.
Mr Lungu said Mr Banda was being allowed on the legal assumption that every Zambian citizen is innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law.
“If he decides to run like his fugitive son Henry did,” Mr Lungu said, “it will mean one or two things, either he is guilty or he is running away from something…but even then we would do everything in our legal power to bring him back to book no matter how long it would take, just like we are doing on Henry,” said Mr Lungu.
The last time Mr Banda flew out of the country was when he monitored the Kenyan polls that saw Uhuru Kenyatta become President after beating rival Raila Odinga.
During that trip, Mr Banda used the international platform to denounce the Zambian government on various fronts in interviews and also used the opportunity to state that no-one forced him out of office when he lost to President Sata in 2011.
Mr Banda has maintained that he is a man of integrity who can do no such thing as “flee” because after all he is an innocent man as earlier pointed out by Home Affairs Minister Mr Lungu.
“The father must not be judged by the sins committed by his son,” Mr Lungu said, “and in the same vein the son must not be judged by the sins of his father is what the Bible tells us, so let’s just hope Mr Banda will do the right thing.”
At the height of being halted from travel earlier in the year, when brakes were pulled the first time–sometimes at the airport–Mr Banda sometimes openly lost it and even used strong language against those whom he perceived enemies.
One time he described government officials as “these sadists”, whom he accused of taking “immense pleasure” in his alleged suffering as a result of the corruption trials.
Mr Banda is expected to return to Zambia before Independence Day and he is required to hand back the new passport he has been given by Government after the diplomatic one was withdrawn.
Mr Banda’s immunity was removed in March by parliament in order to pave way for a graft probe.
His previous applications to travel had been denied by Government on account of fear that he could be a flight risk like his son Henry, who is currently hiding in South Africa.
Henry has vowed not to return home and face the law.
And Mr Banda yesterday shied away from journalists that had gone to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport to cover his departure for South Africa, where is scheduled to undergo medical check-ups.