Investigators delay questioning of Zambia ex-president

Zambian investigators on Tuesday postponed the questioning of former president Rupiah Banda over allegations of corruption, money laundering and fraud until the end of the week.

Banda had already faced two days of questioning following a vote Friday by lawmakers to remove his presidential immunity, prompting his lawyer to question the readiness of the state to prosecute.

“Really this was a fishing expedition,” lawyer Sakwiba Sikota told journalists after the nearly four hour session wrapped up.

“Clearly the investigations have not been concluded. One would have expected that they had concluded their investigations but they have not.”

Zambia’s parliament voted Friday to strip Banda of his immunity from prosecution. But he has yet to be arrested or charged.

Speaking after the Tuesday session, Banda said he felt persecuted, but asked his supporters to “remain calm”.

“This thing will come to an end and the truth shall come out. I was your president, I didn’t do this to anybody,” he said.

Namukolo Kasumpa, spokeswoman for the investigations unit gave no reasons for the postponement other than to say investigators were following procedure.

“There is no delay in anything but we are just following procedure,” she told AFP.

Zambia’s Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said Banda, while president, had engaged in corrupt activities in the procurement of crude oil from a Nigerian firm.

He was also accused of funnelling taxpayer cash into his election campaigns.

The state was ready, he told lawmakers on Friday, to prosecute Banda who led the copper producing nation from 2008 to 2011.

He left office after losing to rival Michael Sata in elections lauded as a model in peaceful handover of power in Africa.

Since then, Sata has rolled out an anti-corruption drive that some have seen as a move to silence dissenting views.