ONE of the tenants of the infamous 51 houses in Lusaka’s Chalala area has refuted claims by the Anti-Corruption Commission that she has failed to pay rentals.

This is a matter in which ACC has sued four tenants of the 51 controversial houses for failing to pay rentals periodically.

The commission has cited Changu Mukakanga, Harriet Chiyaba, Shanda Banda and Paul Wilombe as respondents in the matter.

ACC submitted to the Lusaka High Court that Mukakanga’s rental arrears are K64,400; Chiyaba K58,400; Banda K72,000; while Wilombe is owing K54,050.

But according to an affidavit in opposition to the affidavit in support of the originating notice of motion, Chiyaba, who is the second respondent in the matter, argued that it was not true that she had failed to settle rentals due to the state.

She stated that she had always paid the rentals to the landlord with whom she had entered a lease with initially.

“That we are not averse to paying rentals to the state and we are still committed to do the same,” Chiyaba stated.

She stated that she wishes to remain in the said properties and disclosed that she actually deposited K12,600 in the Zanaco ACC forfeiture account.

“That we wish to remain in the properties in issue as we believe that we shall settle the rentals when accorded the chance and in any case, I deposited some money on 16th September 2021,” said Chiyaba.

Earlier, ACC investigations officer Robert Siwale explained that the properties in which the four tenants were residing were forfeited to the state by operation of the law pursuant to gazette notice No. 667 of 2018, issued under the provisions of the ACC (disposal of Recovered Property) Regulations of 2004.

He stated that several demands and reminders for payment of rental arrears accrued by the said tenants yielded no results and proved to be futile.

“After the forfeiture of the said properties, the applicant’s (ACC) officers verbally informed all the tenants including the respondents that the properties they were occupying as tenants were now vested in the state, hence rent should be paid to the applicant effective from the date of forfeiture. Despite several demands and reminders for payment of rental arrears accrued by the respondents, the same yielded no results and proved to be futile,” Siwale stated.

“While the second and third respondents did not respond to the said demand letters, the first and fourth respondents responded and made commitments for settling the rental arrears. However, the commitment proved futile.”

Siwale further stated that in 2019, the commission executed tenancy agreements for a period of 12 months with the respondents which expired in the last quarter of 2020.

He stated that the same was however not renewed due to the continued default in payment of rentals by the respondents.

“Following the continued default of payment of rentals by all respondents, in January 2021 the applicant wrote a demand letter to all respondents demanding for settlement of rental arrears before renewal of the tenancy agreement for the year 2021. But all respondents have failed to respond and also to settle their respective rent arrears,” Siwale stated.

“None of the respondents have disputed owing the applicant the outstanding rentals and it is not in dispute that the respondents have occupied the properties as tenants required to pay periodical rent despite the absence of a current executed written tenancy agreement. The respondents have neglected and or failed to settle rent arrears and have refused to give vacant possession of the properties despite failing to pay periodical rentals.”

ACC is in this matter seeking an order that each tenant pays the commission the respective rent amount due as of April 30, 2021 and up to the date of determination of the matter.

The commission also wants an order for vacant possession of the flats in Chalala, off Shantumbu Road, Lusaka, as well as, an order for leave to issue a warrant of distress upon the goods of each tenant for recovery of the rent amount payable to ACC, in respect of the properties.