President Edgar Lungu has instructed Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo to immediately ensure the Anti-Corruption Commission and other law enforcement agencies get back to work and fully investigate the ownership of the 48 houses which were forfeited to the State.
“Following the announcement made by the Anti-Corruption Commission, I have instructed the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Stephen Kampyongo through the agencies that fall under his ministry to collaborate and ensure the case regarding the fourty eight (48) houses is investigated to it’s logical conclusion. All investigative wings are under strict instructions to collaborate and ensure this matter sees its day in our Courts of Law,” President Lungu said today.
This directive by President Lungu comes in the wake of revelations by the Anti-Corruption Commission acting Director General Mrs Rosemary Khuzwayo that the case concerning the 48 houses has been closed because they couldn’t find the owner.
She said: “The one we thought was the owner of the flats, investigations were directed at him. But in the course of the investigations, it was clear that those flats were not in his name. So, what we did as ACC, using disposal regulations, we publicized the gazette that we had seized those properties and we named a number of people and institutions that we thought had anything to do with ownership of those properties. That was done last year in August, but by April this year, no one had come forth to claim that those properties were theirs, including the person that we had initially thought owned them. And the person in whose names those properties were in when interviewed, he disowned the properties, he said they were not his. So, when we finally forfeited them in April this year. What we did, as ACC, is within our mandate; the law allows us to proceed the way we did. So, whatever we did is within the law. But in terms of ownership, initially I said that at the commencement of these investigations, we had someone in mind whom we pursued. But along the way, he refused ownership; he denied having ever owned those flats. So, even if we went to court, there is no document that is in his name, the documents are in the name of someone else. But when [we] interviewed everybody, including the person whose name the flats are in, he denied ownership and I don’t want to mention his name. But if he’s watching this programme, he knows himself. We called him for interviews, the records are there. If someone is allowed legally to read our docket, they would be able to see that we did everything by the book. For me who is a lawyer and a prosecutor, I am asking myself, if we took him to court, there is nothing in his name and he refuses ownership, so how would we prove that those things were ever his? And the person in whose names those flats were denied ever knowing about them, what he explained was that someone asked for his NRC copy; he gave them and the next thing he knows is that ACC is on his case because some properties in Lusaka are in his name.”
It has been difficult for anyone to understand how an institution of ACC’s magnitude can fail to find the real beneficiary of these 48 houses, some of which are even occupied. How about electricity bills? Water bills? The builders? What details are at the Ministry of Lands? Who was receiving rentals from tenants? We are 100 per cent sure the owner of these houses could be found once these issues mentioned above are put into question. But the ACC thought the easier route to putting this matter to rest is by closing the case and instructing the tenants to start paying rentals to the Commission. No! There are many questions to be answered. And this is the very reason why President Lungu has ordered a conclusive investigation into the matter to ensure sees its day in court.
The Head of State has seen the discourse surrounding these ‘miracle houses’ and has promptly ordered that the matter be investigated further to establish true ownership of this property and as he has said, this case should see its day in the courts of law.