By ZAMBIA NEWS FEATURES CORRESPONDENT
THE Zambian High Court has ruled that the London Judgment involving former president Fredrick Chiluba can not be registered and therefore enforced in Zambia. The question now, however, is how will the Zambian citizenry take the matter after waiting for over eight years to have the former president either jailed or hold him liable for abuse of office perpetrated during his time as head of state.
The London High Court judgment delivered by Judge Peter Smith in 2007 froze Chiluba’s pension and two properties in Ndola and also found him and others liable of defrauding the Zambian government of about US$46 million. (Read related story here)
Zambia’s Attorney General commenced civil proceedings in the London High Court against Chiluba and others to recover monies that were allegedly stolen using bank accounts hosted in London.
But Chiluba challenged the registration of the London High Court judgment in Zambia saying it was colonialist in nature.
Lusaka High Court Judge Evans Hamaundu Friday August 14, 2010, delivered a 90-paged judgment in which he said that the London judgment can not be registered in Zambia.
The direction of Chiluba’s case was obvious as early as last June when the Supreme Court of Zambia set aside an English order which a British citizen wanted to be registered and enforced in Zambia.
Supreme Court Justices Sandson Silomba, Marvin Mwanamwambwa and Hilda Chibomba last June threw out the matter between Zanetta Nyendwa ,a Zambian woman and Kenneth Paul Spooner a British national and resident. (Read related story here)
On 12th January 2009 the High Court registered an ex-parte Order from the Family Division of the High Court of Justice in England.
The facts are that Zanetta Nyendwa and Kenneth Paul Spooner co-habited together until they separated through a Separation Agreement dated 14th March 2010. The two have minor children, Devian Nicholas Spooner and Caelen Alexander Spooner (3 and 5yrs as at 2008) who are British nationals.
On 20th November 2008, Spooner obtained an ex-parte order which compelled Zanetta Nyendwa (the mother) to return the children to UK following her failure to do so after a two-week holiday.
Armed with this English Order, Spooner came to Zambia and applied in the High Court of Zambia under the Foreign Judgments- (Reciprocal and Enforcement) Act of 1933 to register and enforce this Order. The High Court registered the English Order.
Zanetta Nyendwa through her lawyers Musa Dudhia &Company applied to have the Judgment set aside. The High Court refused to set aside the English Order directing Nyendwa to pursue this matter in Britain. Spooner was represented by Musa Adams & Company.
Zambia’s third President Levy Mwanawasa, a few months after taking over from Chiluba as head of state, lifted the latter’s immunity through parliament on allegations of corruption, theft of public funds and abuse of office which led to his arrest and charged of a number of offences in which the nation lost millions of dollars in the case that came to be known as the plunder of national resources.
Mwanawasa set up the Task Force on Corruption comprising officers from the Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, Zambia Police and the Zambia State Intelligence and Security Services (ZSIS) also known as the Office of the President to investigate these cases. President dissolved the Task Force when it attempted to appeal Chiluba’s acquittal by the High Court.
A number of people who worked closely with Chiluba including former Minister of Finance Katele Kalumba have convicted of the plunder cases while Chiluba himself was acquitted late last year in controversial circumstances.
Chiluba’s fortunes changed after the death of Mwanawasa who died in August 2008 and Rupiah Banda took over as president and the two have been very close from the time Banda took over. Chiluba has also been publicly campaigning for Banda at every opportunity.
Whether Chiluba’s absolution of both the criminal and civil cases of plunder will endear President Banda to the citizenry remains to be seen.
(Addition information and edited by Gershom Ndhlovu. Contact us at email@example.com)