President Edgar Lungu’s spokesperson on Wednesday complained that it was unfair for the Anti Corruption Commission to express ignorance over an investigation against him, which took a year and six months.

ACC spokesperson Timothy Moono on Sunday told News Diggers! that his office was not aware that the Commission had probed Chanda for corruption and found him to be clean, as President Lungu announced during the International Anti Corruption Day.

Moono said since the President had made the announcement, it was likely that the probe was actually carried out by the investigative wing, but kept his office in the dark, because they wanted to keep it away from the media.

But Chanda said by stating that the public relations office was unaware of the case, the ACC spokesperson portrayed a picture that the President was lying.

Yesterday, News Diggers! reached out to Chanda, asking him to explain the ACC investigation, but he refused to speak, but instead instructed his lawyer Germano Kalung’ombe who was in his company, to talk on his behalf.

Below is the transcript of the interview:

Question: We were fortunate enough to be granted an interview with the ACC and one of the things that came out very strongly was that the ACC spokesperson expressed ignorance that the President’s spokesperson was probed, and cleared as the President mentioned during the International Anti-Corruption Day. Now Mr Amos Chanda is your client. What do you have to say to that?

Lawyer: He was probed and what is most unfortunate is that they decided to raid his house when he was on national duty with the President in Morocco.

Q: Which year was this?

Lawyer: That was in February this year. A bunch of them went to his house and when I got communication that they were at his house, I wanted to find out whether indeed they were from ACC. Fortunately, I have been in this practice for quite some time so when the names were mentioned on the phone as to who they were, I said ‘yes, I know those officers but it is the wrong time, ‘who are you looking for’? They said ‘no, we want to enter the property’, I said ‘can’t you give me sometime so that I am there when you enter the property? Do you have any documents on you’? They said ‘we don’t have any documents on us but there are some documents that we need to retrieve from the house’. On the phone, we continued quarrelling and we cut off and at that moment, they decided to use their identities to force their way in and they forced their way in. When they forced their way in, they didn’t do much and instead demanded that Mrs Chanda accompanies them to ACC. They were told that Mrs Chanda was not available, I remember that explanation that she was not available, she had gone for a checkup at the hospital so they demanded to know which hospital so that they can go to that hospital and I told them that ‘no, I am coming through, you know me, all of you know me, I will bring my client, just leave’. They said ‘okay fine, but meanwhile, here is the summon. They brought the summons.

Q: Did they have a search warrant?

Lawyer: No, they had no search warrant. They demanded that the next day, my client should turn up without fail or else they will come in very early in the morning the other day. The next day, I communicated to them and I said ‘my client is recovering from her checkup’ and all that correspondence was put in writing and they also responded. I gave them my word that on such a date [we would go]. My client was wondering what it is they wanted. My client wanted to refuse but I tried to convince her that we proceed. We communicated with Mr Chanda on the phone to just try and convince the wife to come along with me to ACC and he said ‘go along, take her. What is there to shy away from ACC? What are they looking for?’ And so I accompanied my client to ACC. Of course the usual procedure, leaving the phones, entering our names in the books so that no one can say that we never appeared on a particular day. We went up, I think that was the third floor; Anti-Corruption House, the wing facing ChaChaCha. So that’s where we went and there were a lot of them. They were about eight. We sat on a long table, sitting in front of us were four officers, then there were two on the sides with computers trying to record everything that was going to be said and what was actually said.
They said ‘answer all the questions, there are inquiries relating to you which you must clarify’. They asked for the full names, ‘what do you do for a living?’ she said ‘I am a house wife’, these properties which you have, and I must also say that they served on her what you call a restrictive order saying ‘these properties are now restricted meaning that you cannot have anything to do with those properties until the ACC clears that, the bank accounts are frozen. It was signed by then acting ACC director general Irene Lamba, and I have got copies of those in my file. So my client refused to sign but I told her ‘just sign, it is procedure’. So she signed and [they said] ‘so, all these properties which our enquiry shows are owned by your family, how did you acquire them? You are a house wife’, she said ‘no I was also a nurse in UK’.

Q: Which properties are those?

A: They asked about the property opposite Leopards Hill cemetery. It is a plot. They touched on Wayaya Restaurant. They said Wayaya and the properties next to Wayaya on both sides, they said they understood it was family property. They were not saying it was hers but they used their words very intelligent to say “family property”. They said ‘we also understand there are a number of cars which you have. In short, the entire square between Twin Palm and Leopards Hill there, they appropriated it to my client.

Chanda: You can explain who owns Wayaya

Lawyer: Yes, just to be clear before I forget, Wayaya is not owned by my client, it is on long lease but those other properties next to the restaurant don’t even have any connection to my clients. They don’t even know who stays there. So they placed a restriction order for them not to enjoy the rights to wrong property, which you can imagine, I restrict you from driving a Mercedes Benz that you have never owned. So they asked her; ‘who is your husband’? and so of course my client got a little upset and said ‘you know who my husband is, it is Amos Chanda’. So they said ‘where is he?’ She said ‘I don’t know. It is me you have summoned if you want, summon him separately. You must make a distinction whether it is me, or my husband you want’. They said ‘but if those are your properties, where did the money come from? We want to know the source of the money’. So she said, in relation to the property opposite Leopards Hill, that one she bought it over a long period. In relation to Wayaya, there were lease agreements which one of the workers handed over to ACC. They asked her about car blue books, she said ‘I don’t have the blue books, I am just a house wife who also just enjoys the comfort of vehicles to take me around so I don’t have information relating to some of these things but my husband is able to come and say what it is that you may wish clarity over’.

Q: And whose cars were those?

Lawyer: My client didn’t even have blue books for those vehicles because, to my knowledge, they were government vehicles and the transport officer at State House has the blu books. From my client’s answers, they seemed to have made up their minds that Wayaya should be taken out of the probe because it was on lease. And for the vehicles, their own investigations from the number plates which they had on file there, showed that none of them were registered in the family members. Now, they were questioning the wife about the cars, but the warrant of access which they took to [RTSA director general] Zindaba Soko mentioned the husband. They used Mr Chanda’s NRC number 218652/64/1. We were there for about two hours. And they narrowed it down to the property on Leopards Hill, because they had nothing to go with on the other properties. And I think that would justify why they decided to take a different course in relation to the vehicles because they had nothing. So I decided that since they had narrowed down the issue to just the property at Leopards Hill road, the best thing was to proceed to court so that we were able to get the truth over the acquisition of that property. And indeed we went to court, the matter was before judge Bowa. Judge Bowa, for your information is very well vested with corruption because he was an officer of the ACC, director legal.

So the court documents were served on Commission of Lands, ACC, the Attorney General’s Chambers, National Housing Authority, all the parties, we wanted to bring them to court so that they could state their positions in relation to that property and instead of coming to court, they started calling me on the phone. ‘No, this is very clean property’. In fact, the first one was the Commissioner of Lands. I must say that for him, I wrote specifically to get his view on the investigation over that property and so he called me and he said ‘I am even surprised it is going to ACC because I have given no authority, anything to do with lands must pass through my office because for them to proceed successfully, they must come to my office so that I can tell them, ‘this was regular and this and that. I am not aware, that is news to me. In fact if it is possible, inform them that I am not interested in that matter as Commissioner of Lands. They must come and see me about it. He said if the matter goes to court, I will be a witness for the Chandas. That they own it genuinely and we have got the receipts. And in fact, it was just bare land.

The Solicitor General Mwansa himself said ‘this this is not a matter that we can defend because it is a very straightforward matter. Unless there are any other issues that ACC has’. And the strange part about it, it was never offered to the Chanda’s. Whilst they were still out in UK, a gentleman was offered that piece of land by National Housing Authority and he failed to pay for it and he started selling it until a friend of theirs said ‘Mrs Chanda would like a piece of land where she can set up some salon or something’. So they approached them and the condition of the contract was that ‘pay lease charges and give me something on top because I cannot manage otherwise the property will be taken away from me’. So Mrs Chanda paid lease charges, paid the guy something on top, contracts were done and the gentleman did letters to the Commissioner of Lands saying ‘I have surrendered my interests in that property, transferring directly in favour of Mrs Chanda. We had even gotten to a stage where we were about to pick up title but because of these investigations, the Registrar of Lands decided not to proceed because they have received information from the ACC that the property may have been irregularly obtained by Mrs Chanda using their powers.

After four adjournments, Attorney General’s Chambers, Commissioner of Lands, NHA said ‘we raise no objection, let judgment proceed because to us, we don’t know what the issue is.’ It is opposite crossroads, it was a car wash. Even as I am explaining this, it is quite laughable. Judgment was passed to the effect that the property belongs to Marble Nakaundi, that is Mrs Chanda. Because now we went to court to give that history of how she acquired it. And it was ordered that she be given access to her land. That again, was served on all the parties and since that time, no one has bothered her again. After the court order, the Commissioner of Lands asked me to ask my client if they would like an alternative land elsewhere of equal value. And asked that I write to confirm that my clients are in agreement so I wrote just two weeks ago to consent to get an alternative piece of land.

Q: So then the President was making that statement on International Anti Corruption Day based on that information that he had?

Lawyer: He may have access to much more but maybe that was a trigger. When he comes across information that state institutions were even offering compensation, how is that not clearance? The probe was stopped and then they said ‘we are sorry.

Chanda: Tell them where I was when they barged into my house.

Lawyer: Now, to tell you the gravity of the matter, My client was in Morocco with the President when that was happening. It happened a day after he left with the Head of State.

Q: In all this, did you client offer to resign? Did the President ask him to resign? Because it was his family being investigated, according to the ACC.

Lawyer: I am not privy to what my client may have discussed with the President but certainly, my client was in a very frustrated situation where he was saying that he would rather stop and go farming.

Q: Mrs Chanda is a business lady and one of the key issues coming up is not only property which she has acquired ‘dubiously’ but because she is connected to Mr Chanda. Now who is running these businesses? Is it Mr Chanda or is it Mrs Chanda or is it in a trust? Who is behind these businesses that the ACC was investigating?

Lawyer: Put simply, the association of Amos Chanda to the businesses is what excited them. It is not quite a small little thing, it is quite attractive. Mrs Chanda is not too active in this thing, she has got assistants who are running these things. But it was just the attraction that Amos Chanda could be involved, specifically when you are talking about owning properties from one end of the road to the other. So the question was, who is this one who attracts business? And there is a lot of talk out there. Others are telling lies that Mr Chanda bought Eight Reedbuck Hotel, but that not true. If anyone who has bough that property is using Mr Chanda’s name, the ACC and DEC must investigate immediately and arrest that person for fraud. As for Wayaya, it is an incorporated company limited by shares and my client is not a shareholder; the wife is and her sister and another person. It is not even in a trust.

She is a majority shareholder with her sister and I don’t know who else. They must be four or five and the equipment, the entire kitchen equipment, she bought when they were in London. The city was dismantling the London 2012 Olympics facilities. So modern German equipment was going for a song. It was brand new equipment and when you are a diplomat they come in the container tax free, they used their brains and got that equipment. That’s the modern equipment in there. Then the chalets she built there, I think there were not US$300,000 as they said. One was costing K50,000, maybe K250,000 or K300,000. And there is a Chinese man who owns that property and she has a lease with him. So there is no shell company, there is her name there with her sister.

Q: Does your client own any businesses and what kind of businesses is Mr Chanda running at the moment? For Mrs Chanda you have cleared.

Lawyer: I am aware of his farm where he is doing a lot of farming. Outside that, nothing that I am aware of.

Q: Who owns Ndichete Clinic or Health Centre which is on Sable Road in Kabulonga?

Lawyer: Mr Chanda doesn’t have anything to do with it, but his wife is renting the building. She is in a partnership with some white lady. An old friend of hers. Her and three other partners have partnered. Her Contribution is the equipment she bought.

Q: What about Mr Chanda’s property which is in State Lodge and some. There is a very beautiful house in State Lodge. How did he build that because he was just a simple journalist?

Lawyer: Journalists, you are not so simple yourself, so to score somebody as ‘a simple journalist…’ journalism is just a profession. Just like you will say ‘simple lawyer’ but probably I will be MD of this company and so on and so forth. So the acquisition of those plots has a history, just like they are doing now. In this so called empowerment programme that is going on, the idea is not to make people that have served in government become paupers. They got that free from Commissioner of Lands and a number of them. His plot is sitting on the same plot with [George] Chellah. Those were given for free and it may not be the best of houses; it’s a four bed-roomed house, but if you have imagination surely, you can do a lot. Maybe you should see my house, then you will know that that is a servants quarter.

The property is being given value by having proximity to Mr Alexanda Chikwanda, it is actually next to president [Michael] Sata’s plot than it is to honorable Chikwanda. His closest neighbor is DEC Commissioner, same amount of land. Further there is the IG, DG intelligence, the number three in the intelligence, Kabaso, private secretary, still working in State house has a bigger house there. On the same street by the way and George Zulu the former High Commissioner to Australia.

Q: What was the duration for the construction of this property?

Lawyer: From 2012 to last year. Before President Lungu came into power because there seems to be so much talk. Most of the work on the house was done when he was in London, 70 per cent of the works.

Q: Does your client, Mr Chanda own any trucks? Is he into any tracking business?

Lawyer: No, he is not.

Q: There are some businessmen in Lusaka who are linked to Mr Chanda and they say that maybe he has a hand in how they get the contracts. From your knowledge as counsel, do you know if your client is in any way connected to the controversial contracts like the fire tenders?

Lawyer: No he is not. Look here, you greet all sorts of crooks on the road. Are you connected to their businesses? As I walk out of here, my bread and butter is defending crooks out there. This is one very honest man that is the reason why we almost parted company when he was insisting that he moves away from that plot and I told him, I have dealt with Commissioner of Lands for a long time to know that they are all just a bunch of crooks, they are going to give you an alternative but still, get that plot. So it is just in people’s imagination that once you say ‘hi?’ to crooks, then obviously you have some links. I can say he is the most honest person I have come across and I can say so with a very clear conscience. In fact, he is not a client you want to have because even if you are going to tell him that ‘on a matter of this nature, let’s do this’, he will refuse. So you leave him alone so that the system can mess him up and then he cries for you for you to go back.

Q: I wish to clarify here that the ACC itself as an institution did not give us a story that there was no such investigations against Mr Chanda, however, Mr Moono as the spokesperson clarified that ‘there could have been an investigation which my office, the public relations office is not aware of that’. That is his position so I thought we could make it very clear so that we don’t get to be unfair to him. Do you think that the investigation with the ACC was too secret that perhaps Mr Chanda did not want the media to know so he was giving some instructions to ACC investigation not to tell Mr Moono?

Lawyer: No, I can confirm there was no such a thing because I was dealing with those officers whose numbers I have here and they found nothing.

Chanda: Counsel, explain the first thing I opted to do after that matter came up.

Lawyer: Yes, we restrained him from issuing a media statement saying that ‘I am under investigation for offenses I have not committed. A statement was drafted. The reason why they didn’t come up with any story is because they found that there was nothing. They also claimed that there was US$6 million which was parked in a car that was outside at his house. The lead investigator said that it was in the Benz and that there were also gadgets that are able to listen in to conversations within 5km of the vehicle.

Mr Chanda bought that car from Mulenga Sata. They traced it back to him and when they went further, they found that parliament bought it for Mulenga Sata. So the origin is clean and they kept calm about it. If probably it was from Bokani Soko it would have been a story.

Q: How does your client feel about this whole episode?

Lawyer: I don’t know how he feels about it. Of course he is distraught. As for the ACC, that statement seemed like it intended to portray the president as lying and that my client had not been cleared. Mrs Chanda did not appear before ghosts but the ACC who were investigating the whole family including the cars Mr Chanda owned.

Q: As citizens, then we would like to commend the ACC if they are also investigating those who are still in office, but the problem now comes when the investigation is done and the press is kept in the dark. If it is done more transparently, it would be easier to believe when one is cleared.

Lawyer: Yes, they must be praised that they can carry out an investigation on my client for over a year and you don’t know. That’s quite remarkable that there are no leakages. But it was an intensive investigation on land, buildings, cars, on money and all that. And now, the actual guy, Mr [Cephas] Chabu who they accused of having committed a crime on my client’s instruction, him they cleared him and they announced. Put this question to Moono; When they announced the clearance of Chabu, who else was investigated in that case? That was a matter over which Mr Chanda was investigated. How can he not know? He was queried over an advert for Mr Sata which was put in Le Monde and ACC queried it that he was in a corrupt relationship with the editors of Le Monde in 2011 under Mr Sata and he was only queried in 2015. So was ACC under pressure from my client not to mention him? These actually you can ask him (Moono).

Q: Thank you very much for allowing us an opportunity to interview you.

Chanda: As for me, I don’t want to say anything, but you have heard it from my lawyer That’s what happened.