FORMER first secretary at the Zambian mission in Italy Andrew Banda has asked the High Court to set aside his two-year jail sentence, on grounds that there was nothing ‘dirty’ about his deal with Italian firm, Fratelli Locci which was awarded contracts by the Road Development Agency (RDA) where he was found to have received two percent gratification.
Banda, the son of former President Rupiah Banda, said this in his appeal against the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court to convict and sentence him.
When the case came up for hearing of appeal before High Court Judge Mwila Chitabo, Banda said through his lawyer, Milner Katolo, that there was nothing clandestine about his contract with Fratelli Locci as it was a transparent transaction.
Banda said the finding that he entered into the contract of two percent of all payments by RDA was dirty, was “perverse, speculative and unsupported by evidence.”
“The court was precluded from drawing an inference of guilt by reason only of the appellant having executed a contract for that two percent,” he said.
Banda said contrary to the findings of the subordinate court that the signing of the agreement made everything dirty; the evidence on record is that the parties had agreed to execute an agreement.
He said that in signing the agreement, the parties were simply formalising their working relationship and in executing the contract, they were simply fulfilling the principle of freedom of contracts which allows people to enter into legal contracts.
“There was nothing by way of evidence which demonstrated any illegality at all which showed the entering of that contract was dirty,” he said.
Banda noted that the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court found that there was a legitimate business transaction, but what made it dirty was the execution of the deal.
He however, argued that the court did not explain what made the deal dirty in terms of the link between the payments that were made and the contract executed between him and Fratelli Locci.
But acting state advocate Joseph Akapelwa said the court was on firm ground to convict Banda for soliciting and receiving gratification.
Mr Akapelwa said, Banda was a public officer employed as first secretary for political and administration at the Zambian mission in Italy, and the act of soliciting gratification amounted to a corrupt act.
He said the corrupt payment of two percent amounts to gratification in terms of the interpretation of section 40 of the Anti- Corruption Act number 38 of 2010.
“Banda, as a public officer, made a corrupt representation to Fratelli Locci Limited through one of its directors, Antenello Locci, by soliciting for a payment of two percent of the value of on-going works and all future works,” he said.
Banda, 54, was found guilty by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court of soliciting and receiving over K171,000 as reward for assisting Fratelli Locci SRI, a company owned by Italian businessman, Antenello Locci, with Government contracts.
He was charged with one count of receiving gratification for giving assistance on contracts, contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
Banda is accused of allegedly soliciting and agreeing to receive two percent of all the money paid to Fratelli Locci SRI, from contracts awarded through the RDA.