Following the Zambian government’s blatant violation of the law when immigration authorities illegally prevented former President Rupiah Banda from traveling to Kenya despite a court order allowing the trip, a government spokesperson has issued a statement attempting to whitewash their unlawful conduct.
According to the statement by Deputy Minister for Broadcasting and Information Mwansa Kapeya, the authorities chose to violate the court order because the time of former President Banda’s flight would arrive after the swearing-in ceremony of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. However, what Mr. Kapeya neglected to say was that former President Banda had been invited to the post-inauguration dinner at Kenya’s State House, and was only delayed in his travel plans due to the government’s refusal to return his passport promptly despite the decision from the court.
Former President Banda’s international lawyer Robert Amsterdam issued the following statement in response:
“Mr. Kapeya’s statement is contemptible in and of itself. The Zambian immigration authorities have behaved illegally in this case, and were clearly pressured to do so by a weak and terrified old president who is aware of his own failing credibility. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything that Banda has done; instead it is yet another sign that the whole affair is turning into a political fiasco.
“There will come a day soon when the bureaucrats who are asked by the ruling party to behave illegally will have to carefully consider the future consequences. It is a deeply shameful thing to see people like Mr. Kapeya making lame excuses for the criminal conduct of his superiors. The immigration authorities have no right to override court orders, period. A state that does not recognize the powers of its own courts does not remain legitimate for very long.”