ACTING PF secretary general Nickson Chilangwa says the party will contest all seizures of its vehicles and other properties by investigative wings.

But the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says the recently advertised gazette notice notifying named parties to claim 71 properties which included vehicles, motorbikes, guns, among others which the Commission had impounded, was not only meant for PF, but other affected individuals.

On Wednesday, ACC issued a Gazette Notice No. 604 calling on affected individuals who had their vehicles or properties impounded to avail themselves or their properties would be forfeited to the state.

But in a statement, Thursday, Chilangwa said it was strange that PF was the only party which had its properties confiscated.

“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has issued a Gazette Notice No. 604 dated 4th April, 2022 notifying named parties to claim 71 motor vehicles that the Commission has impounded failure to which the said vehicles will be forfeited to the state. We wish to inform our members and the general public that we are carefully studying the list of the impounded motor vehicles and we shall vehemently contest all seizures of vehicles and any other properties that legitimately belong to the Patriotic Front,” he said.

“It is important to note that the Law is very clear: no person, institution or authority has a legal right to question a political party to disclose its source of funding, thus we find the action of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia and other investigative wings of government to continue questioning and harassing members of the Patriotic Front with regards to the funding of the Patriotic Front to be utterly unconstitutional and absolutely ultra-vires. It is equally strange that out of all the registered political parties in Zambia, only the Patriotic Front is being illegally questioned about its source of campaign funding. Further, only the Patriotic Front is having its properties being confiscated. We wonder why no UPND or any other political party’s vehicles are being impounded as we have not seen any disclosure of how they acquired their vehicles. This is purely a witch-hunt and a gross misapplication of the law.”

Chilangwa accused UPND of using state institutions to financially and materially cripple PF.

“Honestly, how can anyone think that a Party as big as the Patriotic Front; a party that has been in existence for more than 20 years; a party that has been in power for 10 years cannot afford to own a vehicle or a property? What kind of warped thinking is that? The UPND is using state institutions and abusing state power to try to wipe out the Patriotic Front from Zambia’s political space. They are using and abusing ACC, DEC and other related government institutions to cripple financially and materially cripple the Patriotic Front and to label and paint the entire party as a criminal and corrupt organisation. However, we will not cow down or falter in our efforts to pursue justice and reclaim what rightfully belongs to us,” he said.

Chilangwa said the party would protect itself from any state abuse.

“We have a solemn duty to protect and defend democracy and the rule of law and we will do anything within our powers, legally so, to defend and protect the party and ourselves from this wanton abuse of state power. Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money and wasting man-hours of the innocent employees at DEC, ACC, Zambia Police and others, the UPND must concentrate on giving honest answers to the Zambian people concerning the Kakubo, Milingo scandals among many others,” said Chilangwa.

“This government of dealers is using the so called fake fight against corruption to try to distract the Zambian people from holding them accountable for their failure to deal with the many economic challenges Zambians are facing under their failed leadership. We challenge the UPND to concentrate on delivering the many promises they made to the people of Zambia and to stop using the Patriotic Front as a cover up for their failures.

And in an interview, ACC spokesperson Queen Chibwe said some of the suspected owners of the items were denying ownership of the said properties, which resulted in the Commission issuing a gazette notice.

Asked whether it was only PF items which were seized, Chibwe responded in the negative, saying the suspected owners comprised different people.

“No! You will see the names, you will tell me [if] all these names are PF people. It is a mixture, there are businessmen, there are private persons that we have given notice to say ‘we seized these’, because some were showing those connections but some were saying ‘it is not mine’. So if they are not claimed within three months they will be forfeited to the state according to this gazette notice. They will be forfeited to the state, we will make that statement,” said Chibwe.

“Yesterday we advertised in the Zambia Daily Mail about 71 items, 71 different items that we have said we seized during investigations into some offences or allegations that were committed under the act. So we are saying that within three months if no one comes to claim these properties among which are vehicles, they will be forfeited to the state. So there are 71 items but just among them are motor vehicles, there are even guns there, rifles. But also to mention that these were seized jointly by the Anti Corruption Commission, DEC and Zambia police. It was under a joint investigations operation. That should be clear as well.”