Monday, April 1, 2013
PF’s double standards on benefits for former Heads of State
GOVERNMENT has cautioned former President Rupiah Banda against playing politics because his ‘active’ participation after retirement may cost him his taxpayer-fund benefits. But the same Government has continued giving benefits to the first Head of State Kenneth Kaunda despite him being in active politics. Dr Kaunda was recently seen receiving defectors from MMD and UPND to PF but nothing criminal seem to have been committed. The warning has been issued by Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba, who in an interview in Lusaka, said Government would not hesitate to strip Mr Banda of his benefits as the constitution clearly states that any former head of State who remains in active politics cannot continue being funded by tax-payers. “If Mr Banda is still interested in the political equation or landscape, we will stop giving him his retirement benefits as the constitution is very clear on this matter.” Mr Kabimba said. The Justice Minister, a lawyer himself was commenting on “wild” claims by Mr Banda’s eccentric lawyer Robert Amsterdam who had issued a statement saying the former President was being persecuted for political reasons. Amsterdam, who often represents disgraced politicians, fugitives and people accused of stealing from their countries, claims that the removal of Mr Banda’s immunity was part of the Patriotic Front’s (PF) plan to transfer power from President Sata to a successor. Amsterdam whom Mr Kabimba had once referred to as a “dog of war” and “mercenary” given the colourful list of his past clients that include Kim.com a German Finnish teen computer hacker. Amsterdam’s former client whose real name is Kim Schmitz was convicted for several crimes, and received a suspended prison sentence in 1994 for computer fraud and data espionage, and another suspended prison sentence in 2003 for insider trading and embezzlement. “Now that we are seeing media reports about the PF’s preparations for a presidential by-election after President Sata steps down, this explains why such a poorly organised trumped up case was brought against former President Banda,” Mr Amsterdam said. Mr Amsterdam, who recently called Zambians that supported the removal of Mr Banda’s immunity as “useful idiots”, claimed that the ruling party believes that Mr Banda had the financial capacity and contacts to raise campaign funds from friends at short notice. He alleged that the PF had sought to impose false cases against opposition figures with the goal of eliminating political competition. But Mr Kabimba said the assertions by Mr Amsterdam had exposed his client’s interest in politics despite retiring. The minister said Mr Banda should tell the nation if he was still interested in politics, a move which had serious repercussions on his benefits. He said it would be unfair to taxpayers if Mr Banda continued to receive benefits when he was still in active politics. “Mr Banda cannot have it both ways. He cannot continue receiving benefits and at the same time be involved in politics,” he said. Mr Kabimba described Mr Banda as a political lightweight who was defeated by PF in 2011 and can be defeated again, including anyone he chooses to support.
at 7:21 AM