Vice President Inonge Wina says investigative wings have discovered that the controversial houses in Lusaka’s Chalala area, whose owners have still not been found are actually 51 and not 48, as widely reported.
And Wina says government raised a total of K1.7 million for the reconstruction of City Market, which was gutted in July, 2017, but that the funds were diverted towards reconstructing Simon Mwewa Market.
Speaking in Parliament during Vice-President’s Question Time, Friday, Wina said it was only logical that the investigative wings don’t rest the case until the owners of the houses were found.
Responding to a question from Itezhi-tezhi UPND member of parliament on whether or not government was waiting for international investigators to reveal the owners of the controversial 48 houses, Wina said the investigation was still on-going and that the number of houses actually stood at 51.
“Madam Speaker, the way some of these issues are highlighted, you begin to wonder whether we live in one country or not. We know very well that government has taken steps to ensure that this case is investigated. And the investigations have not ended. And by the way, for your own information, the houses we have discovered, or the investigative wings have discovered, are not 48, but 51. So, it shows that government is working on this issue,” Wina said.
She said that government was also interested in knowing who the owners were and where they got the resources to build them so quickly.
“And not only that, these 51 houses, some of them date back to 2012 and 2013, and I wonder whether some of the people that are being accused of owning those houses were in power or in offices [for them] to acquire those houses. And in any case, these houses have been forfeited to the State and whoever the owner is will be discovered because the tenants have been paying rentals for all this time. And even on this side, government would like to know who owns those houses and how he acquired resources to build those houses, and who are the current owners, and who they are paying rentals to. It is an important matter that should not be trivialised. And we know very well that when we fight corruption in this country, it should be the work for every one of us. If you have better information, please bring it to the investigative wings. It will help them to expedite the investigations,” Wina explained.
And responding to a question from Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu, who wondered if Local Government Minister Charles Banda misled the House when he said government had no money to reconstruct City Market, Wina said K1.7 million was raised for the project, but was diverted to building the Simon Mwewa Market.
“Indeed, after the gutting of City Market, fundraising activity was undertaken and the money raised could not definitely build City Market. However, the money that was raised from those initiatives is the money that is being used on Simon Mwewa Market so that the people who were selling in City Market can find temporal shelter, while City Market is being designed and worked on. So, the work on City Market is still ‘work in progress’ and we have not abandoned it. So, the K1.7 million that was raised during these fundraising activities has been applied to works at Simon Mwewa Market,” she disclosed.
And in responding to Chitambo PF member of parliament Remember Mutale, who wanted to know what advice she would give to the opposition following the electoral violence that rocked last Thursday’s Kaoma Council Chairpersonship by-election, Wina said signs of the PF’s penetration into Western and North-Western Provinces were written on the wall.
“PF came at the tale-end and now PF lost with 160 votes and this is an indication that the party has penetrated Kaoma and other constituencies in the Western Province and North-Western Province. If I were UPND, I would not sit comfortable because the signs are on the wall that the next time around, the situation may be different. So, there is no wind of change anywhere! The people of Kaoma were intimidated. I was in the constituency and I saw and heard people shooting guns all over in the air to scare people from voting. That is why a lot of people could not got to cast their vote,” said Wina.