Banda, who as a former head of state enjoys immunity from prosecution, was summoned via a letter signed by ACC Director-General Rosewin Wandi on Monday, February 4th. While the nature of the investigation has not been disclosed, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy has denounced the summons as illegal, while Banda’s attorney Robert Amsterdam has described the summons as an attempt to do a trial by headline of the former head of state.
“This letter forms part of a wider crackdown against the rights of the opposition, and is clearly an attempt by a morally bankrupt regime to hold trial by headline,” said Amsterdam in a press release distributed to media today. “The political manipulation of the ACC by the Patriotic Front (PF) government is a sad commentary on the present state of affairs in Zambia.”
Last December, President Michael Sata publicly threatened Ms. Wandi telling her that the ACC would have to ask permission to investigate PF government ministers. This move was criticised by the Law Association of Zambia.
“Unfortunately, in Zambia today under the PF, the anti-corruption campaign has itself become discredited and corrupted as a tool of political persecution judging by the arbitrary selection of targets, inaction on cases of actual substance, and the fundamental lack of evidence,” said Amsterdam. “This latest absurdity concerning former President Banda cannot be taken seriously.”
The current MMD President Nevers Mumba also commented that the ACC is acting at the behest of the ruling party. “We know that the directive is from President Sata, as he had indicated in the case of Mr. Wynter Kabimba, that the ACC must not summon anyone of high standing without his knowledge. MMD considers this action as part of the on-going harassment of MMD Leaders, with the hope of destabilizing the Party.”