NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili on Monday released a list of people who he said are beneficiaries of land in Forest Reserve 27 which included Choma central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa.
But Mweetwa, the UPND deputy spokesperson, refuted Kambwili’s allegations, saying it was defamatory for the former Roan member of parliament to link him to such a scam.
In an interview, however, Kambwili insisted that the list he gave to journalists and later published on his social media pages was authentic, further challenging Mweetwa to enquire from the Ministry of Lands why his name was on the list.
“I have a list of people which I will give to the press, I will not give all the names, but I will give to the press to go and publish of the people that got land in the first deforestation or demarcation of Forest 27. When you look here, it’s just ministers and senior government officials…The law and policy are two different things. There is a government policy and government policy is a set of rules and what you stand for as a government. The government policy is that land must be advertised, you collect applications, when you collect applications, you adjudicate and people come for interviews, that’s when you allocate land,” Kambwili said at his house, Monday.
“Councils have been dissolved before merely for not advertising land, then a chief government spokesperson comes and says ‘there is no law’ just because you have also been given some [land] and I am reliably informed that most of the ministers, including the Head of State do not use their names, for instance, President Edgar Lungu has got a house which everybody in Lusaka knows that this is the Presidents’ and some flats which are alleged to have been built by AVIC international, everybody knows in Lusaka, but when you look at the list, the name of the president is not there. We all know Amos Chanda and Kennedy Kamba have houses there but their names don’t appear.”
Kambwili said government had degazzeted another forest in Shibuyunji and named some of those who had gotten plots there.
“They have de-gazzeted another land called Shibuyunji Forest number 42, listen to the names that are here, Irene Mambilima, 248 hectares, Daniel Siwo from State House, 250 hectares, Emmanuel Tembo, 213 hectares, Blessing Suppliers, this one we have heard that niba mwine (President Lungu) he just failed to use his name, 1,128 hectares. People want land, they have failed to build houses, then one person should collect such a huge chunk, Lawrence Sichalwe, Minister, 442 hectares, Chalwe Lombe, PS Foreign Affairs, 100 hectares, Davies Chama, Minister of Defense, 102 hectares, Vincent Mwale, 102 hectares. I am only picking out the big ones but the list is long. Given Lubinda, 480 hectares, and the list is endless. Now does it mean land in Zambia will be demarcated specifically for politicians and heads of departments and senior government officials at the expense of the people? Where was this land advertised?” Kambwili asked.
“Again they have demarcated another portion of Forest 27 and they have allocated 335 plots, I will give the list to the media tomorrow. Among the people that have been mentioned, Freedom Sikazwe, among the few that I have been told, they are compiling the list for me and I will have it this afternoon. Ministers, MPs and senior government officials, even if we don’t get upset, there has never been a time in the history of this country were things like this have been done.”
Kambwili then gave journalists a list of names of those who owned land in Forest 27 among them, Mweetwa.
But Mweetwa told journalists that he owned no such land.
“I am told that this list was given at the press briefing of the NDC leader Mr Kambwili, in which I am named to be a beneficiary of the much talked about Forest 27 land. I wish to categorically state that I own no such land in Forest 27 and as a matter of fact, I have nothing to do with any piece of land that is under contestation or not in that area. The Ministry of Lands has not given me any land in Forest 27 and I am trying to figure out how someone can put me on a list as a beneficiary because what I know is that even if the Ministry were to offer land to myself or to anybody, before they configure your name in their system, you must first accept the offer from the ministry by paying the service charge. I haven’t received any correspondence from the ministry offering me any land,” Mweetwa said.
“So this should also be treated with the contempt it deserves but for people who go out in public to name others over things they haven’t verified, I think it is most unfortunate because for those of us who are elected people, there is a bigger responsibility we carry of expectations from our people and to be named in a scam of this nature, and to go out and distribute a list that this particular individual is a beneficiary is unfortunate but I understand Zambian politics, we have to be tolerant. There is too much propaganda from people wanting to win cheap political mileage and if we are going to take everything punch for punch, somebody defames you as in this case, you go to court, how many court cases are we going to pull out? I hope that in future, such people with such kind of malicious intent should be able to put their house in order before you go out to the public and misinform the public because leadership is a higher calling. You need to be truthful and not malign others.”
Kambwili, however, insisted in an interview, Tuesday, that the list was authentic and he could not remove any name simply because that person was UPND.
“I am not looking at individuals, that is an authentic list from the Ministry of Lands and if anybody is saying they don’t have land there, let them go to Ministry of Lands, check in the system and they’ll find their names there. Why are their names in the system? And when I am given an authentic list, I am not going to remove Cornelius because he is UPND, then I am doing a disservice to the people of Zambia and I am being fraudulent. I cannot doctor a list that I have been given and by the way, I didn’t even see his name there when I was given this list. I only heard after Cornelius responded, I wasn’t looking at names myself,” said Kambwili.
“I am not targeting individuals, we are talking about the process of allocation of land. It doesn’t matter who was given but was the process correct? Was procedure followed? Was the land advertised? How were the people picked? So I am not trying to defame people, I have nothing against each individual that has got land there, what I am exposing is the flawed system. So my friend Cornelius Mweetwa if he was on the list, I am not the one who complied that list, that list was given to me as authentic as it is.”