Under Zambian law, a president’s parents should be Zambian or at least of Zambian descent for him to qualify for the country’s top position.
Banda is accused of lying under oath, claiming that both his parents were Zambian, but his critics say at least one of them was Malawian.
Banda surely has an interesting background, while his opponents claim he is of Malawian parentage, the fact that he was born in neighbouring Zimbabwe has not helped issues.
The Zambian leader’s parents moved to the then Southern Rhodesia in search of employment just before he was born.
Banda grew up in Gwanda and learnt in Mtshabezi, in Matabeleland South.
Zambia’s former ambassador to Malawi, Milton Phiri turned on the heat last week, writing a letter accusing Banda of lying under oath.
These allegations, considered serious in the southern African nation, could hurt Banda’s re-election prospects.
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda also had the same allegations levelled against him when he tried to challenge then leader, Frederick Chiluba.
“If President Banda does not contradict Ambassador Milton Phiri’s public accusations, this is gross misconduct in terms of Article 37 of the Constitution,” Professor Michelo Hansungule, a critic said last week.
Initially they were suspicions that Banda could have been of Zimbabwean heritage and was often accused of being soft towards his southern neighbours.
However, Phiri claims that at least one of Banda’s parents was from Malawi and that disqualified him from being president.
Phiri claims that Banda lied under oath, by saying he was Zambian, with Hansungule saying the president should be impeached under oath.
Banda has not responded to the allegations. But government spokesperson Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha responded with a counter claim that Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata was also a Tanzanian.
Shikapwasha said Sata was not born in Zambia but only came in the country when he was nine years old.
“Mr Sata did not hail from Chitulika Village in Mpika District because he only went there when he was young,” Shikapwasha said.
Banda’s opponents now want him to do an Obama and respond to the claims.
“Let Mr Rupiah Banda behave like US President Barack Obama,” said former Works and Supply minister, Mike Mulongoti.
“When they questioned his nationality he went and produced documents to clear that matter.
“As a person who came across this information after the press conference and as a concerned citizen, I want to know the truth.”
Mulongoti, who recently lost his position as MMD secretary for elections, said if he had known back then about Banda’s parentage, he “wouldn’t have taken him around the country to sell him as our candidate”
Zimbabwe, like Zambia, has strange citizenship laws, where people are supposed to denounce foreign citizenship in cases where their parents or grandparents descend from other countries.
But Banda can take comfort that he is not alone, Obama had to produce his long birth certificate to prove that he was born in the country rather than Indonesia as critics claimed.