Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dora Siliya has confirmed that President Edgar Lungu owns land in Swaziland which was given to him by his counterpart King Mswati.
Zambians living in Swaziland have shared constructions plans of a US$3.9 million mansion allegedly being constructed for President Lungu in that country, and questioned the source of money.
News Diggers! made efforts to get an explanation from State House press aide Amos Chanda but he did not respond to calls. However, Siliya who initially expressed hesitance to comment on a presidential affairs matter ahead of Chanda, promised that she would gather the necessary facts and respond.
During a press briefing at her office, Monday, Siliya who is also Petauke Central member of parliament said it was normal for a president to own land in a foreign country.
She however did not attempt to explain the source of funds for the construction of the President’s House.
“These are normal practices when the President travels, that various gifts are given in various forms. In this case it was land that was given to the President. This land was processed and given to the President in title. So there is nothing sinister about that because I do know now that people like to create stories even when there are no stories,” said Siliya.
“The President was given this gift in Swaziland and it was processed for him. I think the others, like my dear friend Amos [Chanda] was also given but he didn’t process it, but for the President, by virtue of his status in Swaziland, it was given to him even on title deed.”
But Zambian citizens living in that country are asking State House to explain if King Mswati was also building the mansion for President Lungu or it was his personal undertaking.
“Look there a lot of stories going on here about the status of President Lungu, one of them is that he actually has a spouse from this country who has a child with him and so he is preparing his settlement here,” the sources said seeking anonymity.
“But the big question is this US$3.9 million mansion. You have seen this [house plan]. Not even as a retired President would he be entitled to this kind of mansion. Even [former president] Rupiah Banda was given K5 million which is roughly US$500, 000 for his retirement house. Rupiah also came to Swaziland but there is no house he is building here. So where is the money coming from to built this house? We Zambians here want to to know and the people of Swaziland also want to know if their government is building [President] Lungu this house and on what conditions.”
UNZA lecturer Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa expressed shock that State House kept the gift from Swaziland a secret.
“I would like to believe that President Lungu and his spokesperson Amos Chanda were ‘given’ the land not in their individual capacities but only because of the public positions they occupy in our name as Zambians. When they travel, they do so on our behalf, so anything given to them while on national duty is effectively a gift to Zambians. The question is, why were the actual owners of the land not told about their ‘gift’?” asked Dr Sishuwa.