Former works and supply Minister Mike Mulongoti has welcomed the statement by former president Rupiah Banda that he was ready to have his immunity from prosecution lifted, but that removing the immunity for the former president a total waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
Mulongoti, one of the strong supporters of the Patrotic Front (PF) and ardent critics of Rupiah Banda prior to the 2011 general elections, has come out with an apparent change of heart by joining those opposing the lifting of Banda’s immunity from prosecution.
Former President Rupiah Banda said in an interview with Radio Phoenix from Kenya where he is leading a team of election observers that he was willing to have his immunity from prosecution lifted.
But Mulongoti said in an interview in Lusaka that bitter lessons had been learnt from the lifting of former president Frederick Chiluba’s immunity by his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa who invested colossal sums of money in the arrest and prosecution of the late Chiluba, but the benefits of that action are yet to be seen.
“I welcome the statement by the former President Rupiah Banda that he welcomes moves to lift his immunity. I also take his sentiments on the slate of whether this should be our way of life as Zambians such that every president that comes should have their immunity removed. I do not agree with that one because it is not a good thing, “ he said.
He said Zambia was not the first country in the world to have problems with their presidents. Mulongoti said Zambia must take a leaf from other democracies where former presidents are protected with the dignity that they deserved.
“Presidents are not super humans. They also make mistakes and the nation must accept that leaders can make mistakes,” he said.
Mulongoti said he concurred with president Banda who this week broke his silence on calls to lift his immunity from prosecution by offering himself to be prosecuted if the state felt he had mismanaged the national economy.
“I wish to welcome the statement by the former president that he is ready to have his immunity lifted. But we have to be very cautious on this matter as regard to what we are doing to our country. We have to look at the precedence set by our late president Mwanawasa who spent a lot of tax payer’s money and time to lift Dr Chiluba’s immunity, but very little if any had been recovered from the so called plunder of national resources,” he said.
Mulongoti has opnly declared his intentions to contest the Zambian presidency in future, said he was against the lifting of Rupiah Banda’s immunity not because he was seeing himself as a president but that Zambians must learn to start protecting their leaders.
“We lifted the immunity of president Chiluba. What was the benefit other than the fact that it cost the nation nuge sums of money in court cases, investigations and whatever and as we sit today, we do not have any benefit from that,” he said.
Mulongoti said Zambia should find other avenues of handling Rupiah Banda if at all he abused his office instead of lifting his immunity and humiliating the former of state.
He said Zambia was the only country in Southern Africa that had developed the habit of humiliating former presidents.
On Malawian Judge, Chikopa, Mulongoti said the government was wasting tax payers’ money on his up-keep and other allowances accrued to him.
“From a moral point of view and with the dignity accorded to a Judge, Chikopa must go back to Malawi until such a time when the tribunal for which he was called is constituted then he can come back to Zambia,” he said.