Rule of Law Prevails in Zambia with Dismissal of Politically Motivated Case against Rupiah Banda

Yesterday the Lusaka High Court dismissed a politically motivated case that was brought against former President Rupiah Banda by the previous government. This case accusing him of benefitting from an oil deal with Nigeria, which was the brainchild of the late President Michael Sata and his chosen prosecutor, the currently suspended Mutembo Nchito, and was riddled with questions and a near total lack of evidence.

Robert Amsterdam briefly spoke with Radio France International (RFI) about this important result and what it says about the restoration of judicial independence in Zambia.

“Anyone who’s followed the trial realised that it was – as we had said always – political prosecution,” lawyer Robert Amsterdam said in a phone interview from London. “There was no substance to it. Clearly this was a vestige of a political grudge from President Sata, combined with a prosecutor who spent more time worrying about trying to slay political opponents than he did about rule of law.”

Some political analysts agree the corruption case was politically motivated – an opportunity for former president Sata who died in October to seek retribution for the way Banda treated him when he was president from 2008 to 2011.

“It was [Sata’s] way of saying that he was in charge and that [Banda] had to dance to his tune,” said McDonald Chipenzi, executive director of Fodep (Foundation for Democratic Process), a Lusaka NGO. (…)

Banda’s defence has taken a dim view of anti-corruption crusaders’ role in the former president’s case. “I hope those who shout aggressively about corruption start to recognise that not every corruption prosecution is good for either democracy or the rule of law,” Amsterdam said. “We need to stop prosecutions that are done as international campaigns to make donors happy.”