Zambia’s Ex-Leader Banda to Face 3rd Day of Questioning

Zambia’s former President Rupiah Banda must appear before government investigators for a third day on Friday to face questions about alleged corruption.

Banda is being interviewed “under warn and caution for various offenses,” Namukolo Kasumpa, spokeswoman for the Government Joint Investigative Team, told reporters today in Lusaka, the capital.

Lawmakers last week lifted Banda’s immunity from prosecution after Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba read out a list of allegations against him, including “abuse of authority of office, fraud and misappropriation of public funds.” The former president denies any wrongdoing, his lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, said on March 15.

Banda, who became president in 2008 after Levy Mwanawasa died in office, went on to win elections in Africa’s biggest copper producer later that year. He was defeated in the 2011 presidential vote by Michael Sata.

Banda’s legal team is “frustrated” as the government investigators are on a “fishing expedition,” Sikota told reporters after a second day of questioning today.

The former president is being questioned regarding a family trust, a Nigerian oil deal, and campaign materials, Kasumpa said. Kabimba also accused Banda of using Mauritius-registered companies to finance “opaque transactions that are indicative of money laundering activities.”

A cautioning usually preceeds formal charges being laid in court, Sikota said.

“We are going through the processes,” Banda told reporters today. “It will come to an end and the truth will come out.”

Opposition leaders have claimed Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front is using the fight against corruption as a political tool to target detractors. They have also accused Sata of tribalism, and trying to create a one-party state.

The kwacha was unchanged at 5.38 a dollar as of 2:35 p.m. in Lusaka today after dropping 0.2 percent yesterday.

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