By Michael Malakata, Lusaka, Zambia
Henry Banda, fugitive son of former Zambia president Rupiah Banda who is wanted by the Zambian government for fraud in connection with the US$ 257 million sale of Zamtel to Lap Green Networks of Libya is now seeking to halt international police (Interpol) from arresting him.
Henry has now hired a high profile international lawyer Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam& Peroff LLP to halt the Interpol alert and to have him arrested and extradited to Zambia. Amsterdam also represents Henry’s father former president Rupiah Banda.
Although not a government official, Henry is alleged to have in 2008 connived with former Communications and Transport Minister Dora Siliya to single handedly hire RP Capital of Cayman Island to value the assets liability of Zamtel in readiness for the controversial sale. The company was sold in 2010 after the Zambian government said it had no money to continue recapitalising the company.
Henry has been placed by the current Zambian government on Interpol red list as a wanted person. Henry is currently in hiding in South Africa. The South African government official said this week that they will co-operate in having Henry arrested and extradited to Zambia to face the law after it became apparent there would be diplomatic rile between the two countries if South Africa refused to hand him over.
South African Ambassador to Zambia Moses Chikane said South Africa was aware Interpol was now active on Henry’s case and that the country was ready to do its part as long as it was within the stipulated laws. Previously Chikane said South Africa would not handover Henry to the Zambian government because the charges Henry is facing have not been made known to South Africa. This forced Foreign Affairs Minister Given Lubinda to warn South Africa of a diplomatic row if Henry is shielded by the South African government. The current Zambian government has already reversed the sale of Zamtel to Lap Green Networks of Libya claiming the sale was “fraud and irregular.”
Responding to statements from Zambian government officials returning the return of Henry, lawyer Amsterdam has criticised a fundamental lack of credibility to the State’s case given what he called “its irregular and unlawful abuse of process.” “If you look at the way this matter is being handled by Zambia, you see all the hallmarks of a politically motivated farce,”said Amsterdam. “Mr. Banda has never been questioned by the police about anything, while instead the state has conducted a trial by headline consisting of frequently changing accusations. The fact that Zambia has refused to describe what Mr. Banda is accused of should set off alarm bells. It is a clear sign that they lack any real case.”
The persecution of Henry Banda, Amsterdam said is ultimately aimed at pressuring the former President Rupiah Banda and the destruction of the main opposition party. Amsterdam further said the allegations have been accompanied by a broad attack on the main opposition party Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), including a shocking attempt to de-register the party. There have been repeated arrests of its officials including spokesperson Dora Siliya, and most recently a claim by the former High Commissioner to Canada Nevers Mumba that his house had been raided by state security agents this week.
The Zambian authorities, Amsterdam said have so far failed to respond to Banda’s legal representatives’ request for information and clarification of the alleged charges but instead chose to attack him in the media with unsubstantiated allegations, including labeling him a fugitive, which is false. In early February, Lubinda also initiated a bitter diplomatic dispute with the Government of Kenya over accusations regarding Henry’s whereabouts.
“The conduct of the Zambian government, including the issuing of direct orders to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mutembo Nchito, to produce preferred verdicts, has violated international norms of due process, rule of law, and constitutional separation of powers,”said Amsterdam. “Mr. Banda can hardly have any reasonable expectation of a fair judicial process, much less any fair treatment in the Zambian media.”
Amsterdam & Peroff LLP along with law firm Brian Kahn Inc of Johannesburg, South Africa represents the Former President Rupiah Banda and his son Henry. The legal team is said to be in the process of presenting appeals before international bodies to “expose the unlawful conduct” undertaken by the current administration against the political opposition.