NATURALLY, human beings don’t like talking about their failures. We are always happy to talk about the good things we have done, but we don’t like hearing about what we did wrong. No one admits being responsible for a wrong act. That is why they say success has many parents, but failure is an orphan. In the same vein, a thief will never walk around disclosing to the public that he is a thief.
Hearing former president Rupiah Banda talk about his presidency, the good things he did and how he was rewarded with persecution, only goes to attest to the fact that human beings really don’t like to talk about their failures. People only want to be remembered for the good things, but not the bad. Even if he was a thief, we don’t expect the former President to admit, but it is too soon for him to brag about his presumed innocence.
“I respected the wish of the Zambia people and my own wish that whoever loses the  election must accept defeat, and whoever wins must respect those who have lost; which unfortunately, as you all know what I went through, was not the case with me. [I would not say I have forgiven and forgotten] no one forgets. How can you forget being called this and that, being dragged to court every day? It’s very painful and you have children, every day they’re seeing in the papers and hearing friends at school that ‘your daddy stole this, your daddy did that’. It was a very traumatic experience that I went through, I can never forget, but I have forgiven,” said president Banda on Ignite Television.
With all due respect to the former president, it is our opinion that he has no one to forgive over his corruption allegations and the experience he went through at court. Of course, we know that forgiveness is free and everyone is at liberty to offer it to anyone they so wish, but even assuming that president Banda was truly innocent, we hold the view that no one deserves to be forgiven for taking him to court.
Courts are there to prove innocent people innocent and to mete out punishment on those that are found guilty. There is a huge difference between prosecution and persecution. When it has been reasonably established that you were involved in wrong doing or there is evidence linking you to an illegality, there is no other place where you can plead your innocence than in the court of law. That is not persecution, and therefore, it is wrong to say that if you were dragged to court for corruption and you ended up being freed, then you were being persecuted. No!
The court is not a place where everyone who goes there must end up in prison. It’s a place where we check if our actions were in line with the law. The fact that someone is no longer in court for corruption charges does not mean he was being persecuted. The only time you can claim to be persecuted is when you are arrested for corruption, and during trial, the idiot who arrested you tells the court that you did not commit any offence. In such a case, you can have a good basis for offering to forgive those who dragged you to court for no reason.
But in the case of Mr Rupiah Banda, we can confidently say that not everyone who is freed, especially by a subordinate court, can be said to be innocent. There are examples of high profile cases where the accused claimed to have been persecuted, but when their acquittal was reviewed by the courts of appeal, justice prevailed.
One such case is that of Mr Austin Liato. When the High Court acquitted Mr Liato in the famous case where he had buried K2 billion at his farm, the man went to town claiming he was being persecuted. But because the leadership at the office of the DPP was resolute, the matter was appealed and the resulting Supreme Court judgement is now common knowledge. But even after he was already sent to prison, Mr Liato did not finish serving his sentence because Mr Lungu decided to free him. That does not mean the pardoned convict was persecuted.
So, no one should mislead the good people of this country. The disappearance of the former president’s corruption case from court has a lot to do with the change of leadership at the National Prosecutions Authority as well as the change of office bearers at State House, than Mr Rupiah Banda’s innocence. Everyone with half the brain knows this, including Mr Rupiah Banda himself.
It was all part of the deal that he struck with Mr Lungu in exchange for the support he rendered to the Patriotic Front during the 2015 presidential election. This is the court case that inspired the unprecedented arrest of a serving DPP and his forced removal from office. They knew that with an unwavering DPP, they would not have achieved their desires. For sure, it did not take long after Mr Mutembo Nchito, State Counsel, was physically hounded out office for the former president to be granted his solicited freedom.
The fact that he has left office and he is enjoying his freedom today does not mean that people must forget how he ruled this country. The same way that he can’t forget what he went through at court is the same way that Zambians will never forget how he handled the public resources of this country and what his children did when he was in State House. We don’t have anything against Mr Rupiah Banda, but we don’t feel he is being sincere when he complains of persecution.
Instead of installing himself as a role model of good governance and accountability, he will do well to talk more about how he graciously handed over power. On that topic, he has all the bragging rights and we can dedicate an entire page praising him for accepting the will of the people. What he did was a noble thing that many African leaders have failed to do.