CHIEF Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili says Government has not taken any position on restoration of former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity.
On June 29, 2015, the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court acquitted Mr Banda of abuse of authority of office involving a US$2.5 million government-to-government oil deal between Zambia and Nigeria.
Mr Kambwili, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said in an interview yesterday that it is up to Mr Banda to start the process of restoring his immunity if he so wishes.
“As Government, we have not taken any position. He has the right to apply for his immunity,” Mr Kambwili said.
However, parliamentary Chief Whip Yamfwa Mukanga says the fact that the courts of law cleared Mr Banda of corruption charges means that his immunity was automatically restored and there is no need to table a motion in Parliament.
Mr Mukanga said the Patriotic Front (PF) has no intention of taking to Parliament a motion seeking to restore Mr Banda’s immunity because he has already been cleared by the courts of law.
“What process is there to restore someone’s immunity? If the courts of law find someone clean, then it is automatic that they get back their immunity,” he said.
Mr Mukanga was reacting to calls by some civil society groups who have been calling for the restoration of Mr Banda’s immunity because the courts of law have acquitted him.
Mr Mukanga said PF will not even consider tabling such a motion in Parliament.
“As far as the party is concerned, former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity was restored the moment the courts cleared him of graft charges,” he said.
In 2013, Parliament lifted Mr Banda’s immunity from prosecution because of alleged corrupt activities and misappropriation of public funds.
Mr Banda was later prosecuted in the courts of law but was last month acquitted of abuse of authority of office involving a US$2.5 million government-to-government oil deal.
Ndola High Court deputy registrar Joshua Banda, sitting as Lusaka chief resident magistrate, said the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant placing the former President on his defence.
Mr Banda, who delivered a one-and-a-half-hour ruling in a fully-packed courtroom, said: “I am satisfied that evidence laid before this court is not sufficient to place the accused on his defence. Therefore, this case is dismissed according to Section 206 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
“The consequence of this is that the accused person is acquitted and leave to appeal is granted,” Mr Banda said.
The former President was charged with one count of abuse of authority of office contrary to section 99 (1) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.