Parliament has today removed former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity from prosecution because of alleged corrupt activities and misappropriation of public funds. The motion passed with 80 for Yes, 3 for No while 4 were absentees.
Presenting the motion Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said Mr Banda during his tenure, abused the authority of office, and corruptly acquired public property and misappropriated funds or revenue in respect of crude oil contracts with a Nigerian Petroleum Corporation.
Mr Kabimba said on December 21, 2011, the Government Joint Investigations Team (GJIT) conducted a search on the property of former Energy Minister Kenneth Konga in Lusaka in which the team came into a possession a letter dated November 25, 2008, which letter was personally signed by Mr Banda requesting for supply of 45, 000 barrels per day of Term Crude Oil from the Nigerian firm.
“The GJIT has established that the Zambian government paid the sum of US$2.5 million to the Nigerian company for the said crude oil facility through the Zambian government’s Nigerian Procurement Agent called Sarb Energy Ltd.
“The team also established that Henry Banda, son to Mr Rupiah Banda, was involved in the oil deal with the sole responsibility of deciding where the Nigerian firm assigned to uplift the crude would remit the proceeds for the transaction. Mr Henry Banda opened an off-shore account with Barclays Bank in Singapore into which the proceeds were remitted on behalf of his father,” Mr Kabimba said.
“The diversion of the proceeds Mr Speaker constitutes abuse of authority of office, fraud and misappropriation of public funds on Mr Rupiah Banda’s part for which he must be prosecuted by the GJIT,” He said.
According to Mr Kabimba, further investigations revealed that Mr Rupiah Banda and his family in 2011 spent more than K20 billion on the purchase of election campaign materials and this sum was personally handled and disbursed in cash by Mr Banda and his sons.
He told the House that Mr Banda disbursed the funds through his Senior Private Secretary and the MMD Campaign Centre Manager and that he also disbursed the sum of K60 million paid in three installments to each parliamentary candidate in all the 150 constituencies.
Mr Kabimba said Mr Banda also disbursed K2 million to each local government candidate for the total of 1, 400 wards.
“The GJIT has now established that K21, 907, 847, 170 cash was personally disbursed by Mr Rupiah Banda and his family and that the MMD never had such sums of money in its bank account at any time. During the period, Mr Banda purchased bicycle spares and accessories from Atlas Cycles and printed fabrics from in India at declared value of K371, 908, 000 with duty at K81, 076, 292 while 42 Toyota Hilux Vigo from Western, a United Arab based firm with valued at K1, 869, 840, 000 and K892, 434, 129 as duty.
Similarly, materials including branded candy lollypops, 40 used Bedford Trucks, branded T-shirts, caps, badges, hats, balloons, hand flags and flags were bought from various suppliers in the Emirates, United Kingdom and China.
Others were bought from Japan, Malawi and South Africa that included 77 used light trucks, 2, 407 bales of printed fabric, T-shirts, badges and hats, balloons and various motor vehicle types all valued at K10, 107, 847, 170.
Mr Kabimba said “Mr Banda’s personal handling of such large sums of moneys and his activities constitute acts of money laundering and, or the presumption that the funds in question came from the national treasury as public funds for which he is liable to prosecution.”
He said Mr Banda and his family prepared their own loan agreements to procure a loan of $1, 000, 000 from Hands Industries, a firm listed in Dubai as a dealer in clothing and not a financier, for Mpundu Trust.
The GJIT established Nyiombo Investments procured the said unsecured loan for Mpundu Trust, whose directors were Thandiwe Chilongo Banda, spouse to Mr Banda and two other people who in February 2012, resigned and Mr Bnda also became a director.
The Justice Minister said without any reasonable explanation from Mr Banda, the presumption that the said loan constitutes gratification under the ACC Act was inevitable, hence an offence for prosecution.
Other offences brought to the House included money laundering activities such as the acquisition of a $200, 000 Higer Bus, branded bulbs worth $60, 000, importation of shoes worth $300, 000 from Mauritius and importation of 38 trucks from the UK worth GP100, 000.
“In view of the foregoing, I submit that this House should resolve that criminal proceedings against former President Rupiah Banda would not be contrary to the interests of the State whatsoever and the GJIT must proceed to prosecute Mr Banda,” he said.