People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda says Zambians should forget about seeing justice in the case of 48 flats forfeited to the state by the Anti-Corruption Commission just like a minister was recently acquitted of corruption-related charges.
And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Rueben Lifuka says the case of the 48 flats whose owner is yet to be known should not just end at seizure and forfeiture.
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) last Thursday said investigations into the 48 housing units recently seized and forfeited to the state are still ongoing despite the matter being closed.
In an interview, Banda said the case is confusing and suspicion as ACC can easily locate the owner of the houses.
“This case is already suspicious today; it is also confusing because the ACC are saying the case is closed but investigations are still going on. It doesn’t make any sense at all…So we believe that the people of Zambia will not see the end of this case, they will not see justice served on their behalf because it is just characteristic of the PF government. We have observed from a number of cases that they have failed to conclusively [deal with them]. I can give you a lot of examples; we can talk about the fire trucks, we can talk about the Mukula saga, we can talk about the social cash transfer saga…” Banda said.
“…the PF government itself, just recently we saw the acquittal of a Minister who was accused of corruption. The time the Minister was going to court, we all knew that this case is not going anywhere. So why should we have hope that we would know who the owners of the 48 houses is? So all we know is sooner or later, those houses will be handed back unannounced to the rightful owners. So we know that this case is going nowhere.”
He said corruption would only end if the people of Zambia change government in 2021.
“The only thing we need to do as a people is just pray hard and ensure that come 2021, we do everything possible to change government because that is the only way we shall know the truth because the issue of the 48 houses is just a list of the whole lot of other things, most of which we don’t even know about,” said Banda.
Meanwhile, Lifuka said law enforcement agencies must not forget that the real estate agency had long provided a platform for individuals to secretly launder money and other illicitly gained funds.
“This case is a litmus test and the manner that ACC and other investigative agencies handle this should send strong signals on the preparedness of this country to curb all corruption associated with the real estate sector. Alongside this investigation, it is important government embarks on strengthening and enforcement practices and therefore reduce the risks of having anonymous companies and trusts to easily acquire property and launder money through the real estate sector,” said Lifuka.
“Further, we want to recommend that the government, working with the Zambia Institute of Real Estate Agents and other relevant bodies, should strengthen the professional codes so as to ensure that all professionals involved in real estate activities are required to identify the actual person who is the beneficial owner of the property as part of the due diligence. Mechanisms should equally be put in place that only professionals who pass the test work in the real estate sector. Presently, there are too many people involved in this sector, including those that are not qualified and some with ill-intentions.”