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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 22:52 GMT
Chiluba loses retirement benefits
Former Zambian president, Frederick Chiluba
Humiliated by his own laws on past presidents
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By BBC's Richard Lee in Lusaka

A judge in Zambia has ordered former President Frederick Chiluba to stop using government-owned facilities and personnel.

Over the weekend, Mr Chiluba parted company with his Mercedes, a number of other vehicles and the keys to a government-owned house in the fashionable district of Kabulonga.

In what amounts to a rapid and rather humiliating climbdown, the former leader of Zambia also said goodbye to his security guards and some other domestic staff.

Ever since he left office at the beginning of the year, the opposition have been trying to have him stripped of a variety of state assets.

Face saving

Trying to minimise any embarrassing political fall-out, Zambia's Minister of Information, and one of Chiluba's closest allies, Vernon Mwaanga, stressed to the media that Mr Chiluba had surrendered all of the assets "voluntarily".

However, there was no mention of last Friday's interim ruling by High Court Judge Anthony Nyangulu, who ordered Mr Chiluba to be stripped of all state benefits.

Judge Nyangulu even ordered that Mr Chiluba's salary be cut off, as well as his entitlement to free fuel and free phone calls.

First Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda
Kaunda was left to fend for himself
The ruling was based on one of his own laws - that past presidents are not entitled to any state benefits if they stay involved in active politics.

The legislation was specifically targeted at Mr Chiluba's predecessor, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

Corruption charges

Having lost his benefits because he is still president of the ruling MMD, Mr Chiluba will be supplied with the same perks by his party.

He also has his own, reputedly sizeable, wealth to fall back on.

However, the matter is unlikely to end there. Many opposition politicians are already calling for the former president to be prosecuted for illegal use of state resources over the past two months.

And emboldened by this legal victory, the opposition will now be clamouring to have Mr Chiluba's presidential immunity lifted by parliament to allow him to be questioned about allegations of corruption relating to his 10 years in office.

See also:

19 Dec 01 | Africa
Chiluba's legacy to Zambia
07 Jan 02 | Africa
Familiar look to Zambian cabinet
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