Zambia: President Banda backs acquittal of ex-President Chiluba over corruption

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Zambian leader Rupiah Banda has disclosed that the unpopular acquittal of former president Frederick Chiluba saved him from misery as he had no clue as to which jail to send Chiluba.

Media reports today say Banda was relived by the not guilty verdict on Chiluba who was facing serious corruption charges. “If Chiluba had not been acquitted and was found guilty, that would have been a miserable day for me because I would have to think ‘where am I going to keep a former president? Can I allow a former president to go in prison? Can I allow him to sleep on the floor?” Banda is quoted saying.

He said Chiluba was still a popular figure in the country and praised Chiluba’s record as president. “In addition to the cases for which he has been accused of, he did a lot for Zambia. He liberated the people of Zambia for the second time. There was a one party state in the country of which I was part of that government,” he said.

Banda said he did not interfere with the judiciary in handing the judgment saying he is “very proud that I have not locked up anyone for political reasons or whatsoever,”

In August, Chiluba was acquitted of all graft charges that where hanging over his head. According to media reports, Chiluba at one point spent more than $500,000 in a single shop, Boutique Basile, in Geneva. The shop owner
Antonio Basile, told the court that payment for the clothes sometimes arrived in suitcases full of cash.

Among court exhibits were Chiluba’s top of the range 650 pairs of expensive shoes. Chiluba led Zambia for a decade, after ousting liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia’s multiparty elections in 1991.

The former trade unionist was hailed as a democrat after helping to dismantle Kaunda’s communist single party rule, which lasted 27 years. His wife, Regina, was jailed for three and half years for corruption in March.

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