National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu abused his office by receiving a gift exceeding $1,000 in value and concealing the information from the public.

And Chipimo says the national dialogue process is pointless without the participation of the United Party for National Development, which is a key player to the process.

Chipimo also says bail conditions slapped on opposition leader Fresher Siwale constitute a violation of his fundamental freedoms adding that he has never come across such conditions in his entire career as a lawyer.

Meanwhile, the Times of Swaziland revealed yesterday that the land President Lungu purportedly received as a gift belonged to Inyatsi Properties Limited; which is doing several road construction projects in Zambia.

Addressing journalists at the NAREP secretariat in Lusaka, Wednesday, Chipimo said Zambian laws prohibited an office bearer from receiving gift in excess of $1,000.

Chipimo said President Lungu should have declared his ‘gift’ to the nation.

“The presidential gift is a very controversial issue. We have all learned with dismay that the President has been allocated land in Swaziland by King Mswati. Now this follows widely circulated information exposing architectural drawings and an opulent building that is said to belong to President Edgar Lungu. As is customary in such matters, we had been expecting a very strong denial, or stony silence. Instead, we were treated to a full-blown statement from the chief government spokesperson, Dora Siliya confirming the rumors and stating that it was normal practice for a Head of State to receive gifts such as this from their fellow Heads of State,” Chipimo said.

“I want to make something very clear. Our laws here in Zambia forbids such gifts being accepted when they are acquired as a result of the official position that the individual who has been given the gift holds. Just check Section 21 of the Anti-Corruption Act. You can also obtain a copy of cabinet office circulars which make it very clear that I believe that gifts in excess of a thousand Dollars must be declared. This is government policy.”

He advised President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda against accepting the land he had also been offered in Swaziland.

“It is also very clear in the Anti-Corruption Act, section 21 which deals with abuse of authority of office, that any public officer using their position, office or authority to obtain property, profit an advantage or benefit, directly or indirectly for themselves or for another person is guilty of the offence of abuse of office. Now just so we are clear, the definition of public office includes any person who is employed in the service of the government. That means the President or any member of the State House staff,” said Chipimo.

“Now in her remarks, Ms Siliya was gracious enough to point out that not only was the President given land, but that Mr Amos Chanda, the State House press aide was also given land, only that his land has not yet been processed. This is a friendly advice to my friend Amos Chanda, who doesn’t pick up my phone [calls] anymore, who I haven’t spoken to I don’t know in how many years now, Amos don’t take up this offer of the land as it will be a violation of the law here in Zambia. Otherwise you will have to face the consequences,” Chipimo said.

Meanwhile, according to a Times of Swaziland story published yesterday, President Lungu’s plot was originally owned by Rudolph Investments (Proprietary) Limited before being sold to Inyatsi Properties Limited.

“Despite the Zambian government alleging that the land was a ‘gift’, documents sourced from the Deeds Registry public information centre reveal that the area in question is one of around 90 plots which are under the ownership of Inyatsi Properties Limited. According to the deeds files, the area where the plot is situated was initially owned by Rudolph Investments (Proprietary) Limited. The plot itself is measuring 4105 square metres and was approved by the surveyor general on March 12, 2009. A deed of transfer was then processed last year through S.V. Mdladla & Associates and Inyatsi Properties Limited lawfully acquired the plots from Rudolph Investments. An effort was made to get a comment from Architects International which, however, requested not to say anything on the matter. ‘Unfortunately, for ethical reasons, we are unable to comment on matters relating to our clients’ businesses,’ said Richard Magnus on behalf of the company,” read the story which went viral on social media around 08:00 hours in Zambia yesterday.

Sources in that country have shared with News Diggers! provisions of the Constitution of Swaziland, a country that was recently renamed Eswatini, indicating that it does not support ownership of land by foreigners.

“Subject to subsection (5), all agreements the effect of which is to vest ownership in land in Swaziland in a non-citizen or a company the majority of whose share-holders are not citizens shall be of no force and effect, unless that agreement was made prior to the provided law,” reads Chapter XII, section 211 (4) of the Swaziland Constitution under declaration of land, minerals and water as national resources.

Netizens in Zambia shared their theories on why Inyatsi Properties Limited gave President Lungu the land in question, saying that company’s subsidiary, Inyatsi Construction Limited, had also been awarded a K701 Million contract by the RDA to rehabilitate the Mufulira – Ndola Road.

Meanwhile during his press briefing, Chipimo also said the national dialogue process would not yield any results without the UPND’s participation.

“The roadmap to national dialogue remains as potholed and as impassable as ever, with the biggest opposition party shunning the opening event, political violence remains alive and well and shows little sign of diminishing. The long awaited national dialogue has finally started. But it is without a key player, it may not go as far as it should. Now make no mistake, the national dialogue is not a matter, it is exclusive to PF and UPND, but the Absence of one of the two parties that are central to the violence and animosity that has been perpetrated over the last three years, has to be addressed if we are to see any real progress when it comes to national unity. The absence of UPND from the dialogue negotiating table makes this whole exercise rather complicated. It is imperative that every effort is made to include the UPND as the source of much of the violence that has characterized our politics in recent years, has at its roots the simmering tensions that exist between the current two leading political parties in Zambia,” he said.

“It is incumbent upon the Patriotic Front as the party holding the reigns of power, to be the first to reach out to their most bitter rivals and agree terms of peace for the sake of the nation. We were told by the spokesperson of UPND that they were not going to take part in this dialogue process because ZCID cannot be trusted because they receive government funding. Now I want to make it very clear, we do not think there is any merit whatsoever in this claim. And I will tell you why, because if the UPND spokesman is saying that the ZCID cannot be trusted because they receive government money, the for the same reason we should trust the UPND after all they are an even bigger recipient of government funding, as MPs and as city, municipal and as district councils members who earn a regular monthly income which is paid by who? It is paid by the government. In short if UPND really has a problem working with anyone funded by government, then they have a problem working with themselves. I appeal to the PF and the UPND please put country first.”

Meanwhile, Chipimo said bail conditions slapped on Siwale constituted a violation of his fundamental freedoms adding that he had never come across such conditions in his entire career as a lawyer.

“We have a rather odd situation in the case of Fresher Siwale. Now in my history working in the legal profession, I have yet to come across bail conditions that require a surety to be senior civil servant. There is no legal basis for setting such a bail condition and these bail conditions are difficult to attain as it constitute a violation of his fundamental freedoms,” Chipimo said.

He welcomed President Lungu’s decision to halt the constitutional amendment process.

“The decision by President Lungu to delay the tabling of amendments to the republican constitution should be welcomed by all stakeholders. Congratulations. We could not understand why there was a mad rush by the minister of justice to table amendments and this is something that is leaving many people, independent observers, puzzled and suspicious about the true intent about the planned changes. We all know that our constitution has flaws. We also know that this was partly as a result of rushing through the final draft before a comprehensive appraisal had been made of what changes had been accepted or rejected by the patriotic from administration once the review process was complete. We expect to see full consultations on any planned changes,” said Chipimo.