Chiluba not enjoying his retirement?

Author:Ntomba, Reginald
Position:Zambia - Frederick Chiluba - Brief Article

Just when he had started enjoying the perks attached to his new status as former president, including a government-owned house, state security, staff and vehicles, Frederick Chiluba who ruled Zambia for 10 years between 1992 and 2002, has become the centre of attraction in the opposition dominated Parliament in Lusaka.

Since he left office last December, there have been continued reports of alleged financial mismanagement under his rule. Some opposition MPs have even gone as far as calling on President Levy Mwanawasa (who served under Chiluba as vice president) to repeal Article 43 of the constitution and strip Chiluba of his immunity from prosecution.

The main opposition leader, Anderson Mazoka, wants the matter properly investigated. "That is the problem in Zambia, there is too much talking instead of action. Let the people responsible tell us what crimes the man has committed and if there is a case, let Chiluba face the law," says Mazoka.

But President Mwanawasa has said Chiluba's immunity should not be removed. "We should be careful that in the process of eliminating corruption, we do not create institutions that encourage corruption," says the new president.

However, Vernon Mwaanga, secretary general of the ruling MMD, announced during a party renewal exercise that Chiluba was "ready" to have his immunity lifted on condition that the same was extended to others who have held public office since independence in 1964.

But legal experts argue that Chiluba trampled on his predecessor's immunity when former President Kenneth Kaunda was arrested on 25 December 1997, for his alleged connection with a failed coup.

Kaunda is now demanding that the immunities of other former public officials be lifted, arguing that he was removed, searched and accused of stealing US$6m when he lost power to Chiluba in 1992. Now Chiluba himself faces a long list of similar allegations.

Topping the list is the disappearance of $90m from the Meridian BIAO Bank in 1995. The money was allegedly deposited in the Bank to save it from collapse, but Chiluba's government is alleged to have connived with officials of the Bank to transfer the money to The Bahamas. This forced the hank to close, leading to mass job losses, and also huge losses to depositors who could not retrieve their money.

The government then gave the police $7,000 to probe the scandal but the police report was never published. Now Mwanawasa's new government is calling for the report.

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