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02 October 2008

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The Zambian High Court has set tomorrow (Friday) as the day to hear the case in which the court is being asked to declare that Rupiah Banda cannot be Zambia’s vice president and acting president once he has been nominated as his party’s candidate for the coming October 30th presidential elections.

The Anti-Rigging Zambia Limited, a non-government organization which brought the case, says Banda cannot use state resources as vice president and acting president to fund his political campaign.

Mbita Chitala is the chief executive officer of the Campaign Committee for the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy. He told VOA that the lawsuit is an attempt by main opposition leader Michael Sata to subvert the Zambian constitution.

“Our view as MMD is that this is truly an outrageous attempt by the Patriotic Front led by Mr. Sata to subvert our constitution of our republic. Our courts are professional and we know that Article 43 of our constitution provides protection of the president against legal proceedings. And Article 43 (1) states and I quote “no civil proceedings shall be instituted or continue against the person holding the office of president or performing the functions of that office in respect of anything done or needed to be done in his private capacity”. In other words, what we have here in Zambia is an acting president, not the vice president. And so he’s completely and totally protected by our constitution,” he said.

When asked to clarify, Chitala reiterated his assertion that Zambia’s main opposition leader Michael Sata was behind the lawsuit before the High Court.

“I’m blaming basically the Patriotic Front because the gentlemen who masquerade as the chairman and leaders of this organization are at the same time the leaders of the Patriotic Front Party. So there is really no difference between the two,” he said.

The Anti-Rigging Zambia Limited, a non-government organization, which brought the case, says Banda cannot use state resources as vice president and acting president to fund his political campaign. But Chitala said Mr. Banda is working within the confines of Zambia’s constitution.

“Yes, it is permissible. And I’m saying that for now he is the acting the president of the republic as provided for in our constitution. And therefore he is the president of the republic. So that this attempt by the PF and their NGO is totally outrageous and an attempt to subvert our constitution,” Chitala said.

In an interview earlier this week, opposition leader Michael Sata told VOA that the ruling MMD party was going to rig the October 30 presidential election by bribing other opposition politicians to support Rupiah Banda’s candidacy.

But Chitala the MMD is responsible for entrenching democracy in Zambia.

“You see we in the MMD are the pioneers of democracy in this country. So we are not a party that practices or attempts to rig elections for the sake of just being in power. We brought in democracy so we can contest fairly and equally. And therefore this characterization of us as undermining our democracy is totally unacceptable and an unfair comment against us,” Chitala said.

Source: Voice of America