President Edgar Lungu has instructed Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo to engage law enforcement agencies under his ministry to probe further into the ‘mysterious’ 48 housing units whose owners the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has failed to find.
On Sunday this week, ACC acting director general Rosemary Nkonde Khuzwayo told ZNBC that the Commission had closed the case against a Ministry of Finance official who allegedly owned 48 housing units that were recently forfeited to the State on grounds that there was no evidence linking him to the said properties.
Khuzwayo explained that the suspect in whose names the properties were registered also denied ever owning them, saying someone had just used his NRC, thereby leaving ACC with no case to take to court.
But speaking to journalists at State House, Thursday, Kampyongo said the President had issued fresh instructs to have the matter reopened and probed thoroughly because it was impossible for houses to just construct themselves.
“I just want to share with you that his Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has issued some instructions to me as Minister of Home Affairs regarding the matter which is under public debate. You are aware that the acting director general of Anti-Corruption Commission did appear on an interview [on ZNBC] and out of that interview, some of the revelations that came out generated a lot of public debate. So the instructions from his Excellency are that, much as the ACC doesn’t fall under the Ministry of Home Affairs, he has instructed us to ensure that the agencies that fall under the Ministry of Home Affairs get to collaborate with the Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure that the matter which is under public debate regarding the 48 houses is probed further and the desire is to see that matter be resolved in the courts of law. Those are the instructions his Excellency has given this morning (yesterday),” Kampyongo disclosed.
Asked if he meant people linked to the said property needed to be be found and taken to court, Kampyongo responded in the affirmative.
“Obviously, owning a property has got [paper] trail. The houses can’t just build themselves. Of course we are not going to go into the details of how far ACC did go in their investigations in the matter, but there could be elements that will require other law enforcement agencies because ACC have got a mandate, so if there are matters that can be further probed by other agencies like Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC)… because we have heard sentiments like the person who was arrested pointed to another person and this person is saying ‘the documents were fraudulently gotten’. So there are elements that other institutions can further interrogate and see how they can consolidate what the ACC could have done in that matter,” he explained.
“Yes, we acknowledge and appreciate that ACC did the gains by getting those properties forfeited to the State. But I think it’s also worth noting that there could be individuals behind that and these are the individuals that even the public is interested to know in terms of who they are. So it will just be ideal that if these people are innocent, they go and face and clear themselves in the courts of law. This is not to say that ACC didn’t do their part. They’ve done their part and that’s why they’ve ended up forfeiting the property. But I think His Excellency’s instructions are that we need to go beyond just forfeiting the property to seeing who would have been behind that, as a way of sending a signal to would be perpetrators of the same vices.”
Meanwhile, Kampyongo clarified on how the President handles matters involving his appointees who are accused of corruption.
“I just further want to say that there were issues to do with how the President handles his appointees when it comes to issues of corruption and I think the nation knows where the President stands. One former minister who could have still been with us in Cabinet, Honourable Chishimba Kambwili, now an opposition leader. He’s no longer in Cabinet because he had to be relieved at the request of investigative agencies who thought he was not cooperating when they needed to get information from him. They requested the President [to have him relieved of his duties]. So it’s not like there are no channels in which His Excellency can decide on what to do with regards to his appointees who could be corruption suspects. So Mr Chishimba Kambwili as it stands, he still remains a corruption suspect. He was proving difficult and he was relieved. Others, yes they have also been allowed to go to court. So the President has shown on his part that he’s not going to protect anyone of us who is found wanting in these matters,” said Kampyongo.