…as High Court quashes all criminal matters
By Nation Reporter
FORMER president Rupiah Bwezani Banda is finally a free man following years of persecution by the cartel which attempted to usurp power from some heads of State and use it to throw into jail their perceived enemies.
The Lusaka High Court yesterday discharged from court all criminal matters against the former republican president following the restoration of his immunity on March 10, 2016.
Responding to an application by Mr Banda’s lawyers, High Court Justice Flugence Chisanga said yesterday it would be incompetent to continue the proceedings before the courts when the former president’s immunity had already been restored.
She explained that as long as the former president’s immunity was restored, there could be no criminal proceedings against him in the courts of law.
“Having had subject of the order made by consent of the parties on the 10th of March, 2016, wherein the immunity of the former president Rupiah Bwezani Banda was restored, the position then is that he cannot be prosecuted in any criminal charge.
“It is thus incompetent to perpetuate the proceedings before me in the instant case; accordingly, the constitutional reference made to this court consequently stands discharged and it is so ordered,” Ms Justice Chisanga said.
This was in a matter against the former president Banda following his acquittal of criminal charges against him in the subordinate court. Mr Banda’s defence lawyer Professor Patrick Mvunga had on March 24, 2016, made an application to dismiss any criminal proceedings against the former head of State following the executed consent judgment signed earlier on March 10, 2016.
The State Counsel in his application indicated that the consent order should be a confirmation of the State’s position on the matter, and asked the court to quash all such intention as to continue with the prosecution.
“We on our part do not think it is prudent to continue. It is important for the State to state its position. From the contact we have had with the State, it would appear that is the position, undoubtedly the position confirmed by an executed consent judgment,” Prof Mvunga said.
The former head of State had argued that it was illegal, and therefore null and void, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to have commenced criminal proceedings on charges of corrupt practices when they were not among the reasons presented for the lifting of his immunity in Parliament.
Parliament in 2013 voted to lift the immunity of Mr Banda on recommendations from the then DPP, Mutembo Nchito, after a lengthy proposal by then Justice minister Wynter Kabimba despite numerous criticisms from some sections of society including the opposition Members of Parliament.
Mr Banda was granted judicial review in 2013 which also acted as a stay for the courts to hear the matter and determine the directions of proceedings after the Speaker of the National Assembly had decided to remove the immunity of the fourth republican president on allegations of criminal charges.
The Magistrates Court acquitted him of all criminal charges leveled against him, for which he lost his immunity in 2013, after which the former president applied for judicial review against the decision to remove his immunity, and sought an order of certiorari to remove into court for the purpose of quashing the decision of the DPP to commence criminal proceedings against him.