UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the 48 housing units, which were forfeited to the State by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) last month, are registered in the names of a Ndola-based lawyer.

And Hichilema has demanded the immediate release of NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili who is still detained at Lusaka Central police.

Yesterday, Hichilema visited the ACC headquarters in Lusaka to give the commission some “evidence” in the 48 houses case.

Addressing journalists at the party secretariat in Lusaka after his visit, Hichilema wondered why the Commission still hadn’t arrested the owner of the 48 houses despite knowing who it was.

He said the UPND had done some work and discovered that the 48 houses were actually registered in the name of a Ndola-based lawyer.

“We have done our work and that’s what has been covered in my letter delivered today (Thursday) to the Anti-Corruption Commission. We understand that the plot was initially owned by an individual of Asian origin, and this is known to the Anti-Corruption Commission. We understand that this individual then sold the plot to another group that then sub-divided the plot into many lots. We also understand that these properties may have been built between 2012 and 2013. We understand that the owner of these 48 houses, 30 of them we believe are complete, 18 are incomplete and out of the 30 that are complete, we believe 29 may be on rent. The ACC is aware of these facts. We also understand this individual has 30 more plots within the vicinity of that area. So, 48 plus 30 is equal to 78. We also understand that the lease agreement for the 29 properties that may be on rent and at least at some point are in the names of a Ndola lawyer and the ACC know this lawyer,” Hichilema said.

“The ACC is also aware of who has been collecting rentals. I wish also to let the nation know that these 48 houses are totally different from the 49 houses cited in the Financial Intelligence Centre (Trends) Report of 2018 and these are owned by a Politically-Exposed Person (PEP). But what the PF are trying to do is to create an impression that the 48 houses are the same as the 49, no! They are different! The rot is actually deeper than what you have been made to believe and it is the ACC, which we mandated as the people of Zambia to protect public assets. That’s why I went there to remind them that there is enough information that they have and they must answer to the call of the people of Zambia, irrespective of who is involved.”

He wondered how the ACC could manage to investigate and prosecute cases involving more influential persons if they could not find the owner of the 48 houses.

“We are aware that they’ve effected a forfeiture of these properties; we understand that simple action very well. But the point we are making is that there is still a criminal act, forfeiture is only one; what about the other criminal side of this matter? From what we know, the little work we have been doing, we believe that the ACC are concealing information that the public is entitled to. The question is, why are they concealing information? We suspect it’s because they don’t want the people to know the true owners or beneficial owners, which would lead to political connections. That’s why the ACC, now, are oppressed by political pressure of some kind and it is our duty, the few of us who understand, that it’s our duty to speak for the people not to allow this matter to die like that,” Hichilema insisted.

“The chairman of ACC issued a statement, which we do not appreciate! Why should the whole chairman be used to cover up a matter like this one? If the ACC cannot execute a simple mandate like this one, how are they going to deal with the issue of the 49 houses, which are purely connected to a political individual or individuals? They may not even start those investigations, especially since someone who is supposed to protect our assets as number one protector, was shouting over the FIC (Trends) Report ‘mfwiti mfwiti mfwiti!’ A statutory body called FIC issued a report, indicating to us, citizens, that there is a problem here, but someone was shouting ‘mfwiti mfwiti mfwiti’, meaning ‘why are you bringing those issues?’ That’s incorrect. As if that was not enough, we have people who have allocated themselves plots in the Lusaka Forest Reserve (No. 27); they don’t care about ground water situations. They have shared parts of the Forest Reserve. We expect the ACC to help us in this clear case of corruption. But if they can’t handle the 48 houses, how are they going pursue senior officers of the Judiciary? Senior Parliamentary officers, PF cadres and clowns! Ministers sharing plots in Forest 27? We are asking the ACC to stop protecting a band of thieves who are damaging our country beyond repair.”

Meanwhile, speaking outside the ACC offices, Thursday morning, Hichilema condemned Kambwili’s arrest.

“This is a matter that must concern all of us; citizens have freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, they have rights. And citizens should not be arrested, detained wantonly like the way it’s happening in this country. It’s not correct. Anyone who needs to answer to some issues relating to the law or laws must be treated innocent, they must be deemed innocent until proven guilty. This means that (police) bond must be given to our colleague, Chishimba Kambwili, if not bond, I understand the police are scared like many public workers. They are scared of being dismissed! Today it’s common to be dismissed in the so-called ‘national interest’, when it’s actually in the interest of the corrupt few, not national at all. So, if the police are scared of being dismissed for issuing bond, 48 hours after someone has been arrested, they must be taken to court and the court must grant them bail with fair conditions,” said Hichilema.

“Why should citizens be treated like that? Why should the law be abused like that? It’s because you citizens are silent! Do not be silent! I used to say so and most of you never believed me, I used to say ‘HH is being detained every now and then’. For all the 15 times I have been locked up, I have not been convicted once, it means that I have been locked up for crimes I did not commit. And I always say ‘today it’s HH, tomorrow its you’, here it is, it’s Kambwili. After Kambwili, it’s you. So, citizens have the right to protect each other, especially if the State becomes a monster! What we have now is a State that has become a monster, chewing it’s own citizens, it’s unacceptable!”