By Prof. Michelo Hansungule
President Edgar Lungu’s Nkoyeni mansion being built in Manzini, Swaziland is pure case of naked theft of public resources and grand corruption.
Contrary to President Lungu’s mouth piece Minister of Disinformation Dora Siliya that Swaziland’s King Mswati gave her boss the land, records and facts on the ground are unequivocally that the king never at any time give or donate this land to Edgar Lungu.
Since this story broke out serious attempts have been made at the Deeds Registry of Swaziland which is at the Income Tax Building, 3rd Floor along Mhlambayatsi Road in Mbabane, to try and hide documents under lock but people are people. When they are fed up with something, they simultaneously ‘hide’ and ‘expose’. According to the records, this transaction does not involve king Mswati.
In fact, the government of Swaziland is already on record in denying that King Mswati or his government is involved. The Times of Swaziland quoted Swaziland government spokesman Percy Simelane as saying ‘the purchase of land to build a family house for president Lungu is a private issue’.
No one has since rebutted this statement and to date it remains official Swaziland government position on this deal.
To fortify his government’s position, Simelane gave an example of a Swazi citizen whom he said had a family ranch in one of the first world countries, saying ‘That country’s government had nothing to do with it (sic).
I emphasise this line to underscore the fact that like in this case, his government had nothing to do with Edgar Lungu’smansion. Dora Silia can do a better job addressing Simelane’s remarks and perhaps if she wants act as King Mswati’s spokesperson as she appears to want to and should Simelane down.
I personally asked the Times of Swaziland who first broke out the story for a comment on Zambian Disinformation Minister Dora Silia’s claim that the land in question was a donation from King Mswati to Lungu? The Law Association of Zambia unfortunately, repeated Silia’s claim.
The media house said they are surprised because they never in their story said the land was a donation from the King to Lungu. The question is why when exposed they would try to drag the King’s name if there was nothing untoward in the transaction? The answer is obvious.
I challenge President Lungu to publicly produce an authenticated Deed of Donation from the King.
The salary of the president in Zambia is pubic affair. Anyone who has money can go to the Government Printers and purchase the government gazette in which is published the salary of the president and see for themselves how much the president earns per month. I have the relevant gazette with me.
Though the president’s salary has steeply jumped to the roof since the time of president Kaunda who during was getting peanuts, it simply can’t support the kind of huge personal projects president Lungu is reportedly involved in Zambia, now Swaziland and other places. Let’s not fear. President Lungu should be made to explain where he gets all thesehuge resources to fund his expensive projects?
The preamble to the Zambian constitution declares Zambia a Christian Nation. If president Lungu does not feel obliged by law to publicly explain his sudden mounds of wealth evident everywhere, today is Sunday, let us all who pray today, in keeping with the Christian clause, ask the Almighty God where our president gets all this money to fund his expensive personal projects? God will tell us what the president cannot and give us courage to confront the president with the truth.
Fortunately for Zambia, founding president Kenneth Kaunda is still alive. Kaunda was president for nearly three decades. Kaunda became president when Zambia was literary asleep.We only had four indigenous graduates at independence. Institutions of governance had not yet been built. Even modern concepts of good governance were unheard of. Had Kaunda wanted, he literary would have stolen Zambia with our eyes wide open.
I am not saying Kaunda is an Angel. No, Kaunda, like most of his contemporaries such as founding Gambian president and friend of Kaunda Sir Dawada Jawara below, is human. Despite their many failings, that generation knew how to protect the resources of their people.
Three years ago, I together with students and their professors from across Africa visited so-called Kaunda’s office in Kabulonga and what we saw was unbelievable. There wasn’t even basic running water at Kaunda’s offices and as a result the visit had to be aborted due to the unhealthy state of the premises.
Only last week, I paid a courtesy call on Sir Dawada Jawaraat his official home in Banjul, a very modest house you’d not believe it houses a founding head of state. My ramshackle house in Pretoria is much better than that of President Jawara.
Compare this with some of the so-called modern l;eaders in Africa today. Only reason they take power is to steal, steal and steal. Interestingly, they pray and steal as if to say ‘please God, let me steal more and let more and more die from poverty so I live in splendor…..”.
To do this, they come up with big projects like huge road construction because then you have the opportunity to stuff your pockets with money, money and money, all of it stolen from public resources. Small projects you can’t easily do this.
A major strategy towards ‘free theft of public resources’, is to ‘kill democracy while shouting democracy’. Shut down and punish free independent media with the most extreme police brutality and abuse of law. Once you put the media out of the way or simultaneously with it, kill and cripple the institutions of governance like parliament and the judiciary as well as thecivil society organizations which are supposed to bring these thieves to account, you have a free hand. In Uganda, for instance, where we apparently learn most of the tactics of misgovernance including the militarization of the civil space, police in Uganda have easily stormed the courtroom while the court is sitting and physically beat up lawyers representing opposition leaders. Uganda security forces have invadedParliament during its session arrogantly arrested and beaten up the opposition in full view of the Speaker.
But who causes corruption? It is the citizens, not leaders. When citizens are afraid to stand up and fight their corrupt leaders and insist on accountability including prosecutions if necessary forcibly ejecting corrupt leaders them from office, corruption flourishes. The Zambian constitution guarantees all citizens the right to their resources. Paragraph seven of the preamble confirms, inter alia, that we all are entitled to a sustainable economic and social order. On the ground this is a far cry. In reality only a few that have captured the state share the tenders and monopolise the resources of the country leaving the rest to languish in squalor. This in a Christian state is unacceptable. As seen above, God detests corruption and particularly hypocritical leaders who shout liberty yet eat corruption.
The ACC must investigate the Nkoyeni mansion scandal. The Nkoyeni Mansion scandal is a very simple case that if investigations had been instituted immediately it broke out, it would by now have concluded and the culprits already put behind bars. Despite attempts to cover the footsteps, paper trail about this crime is evident all the way from Mbabane to Lusaka. Witnesses who at the risk to their lives are willing to testify are there in both the two countries. Already, they are talking to ordinary people all because their consciences and religious upbringing cannot shut them down.
It is not right as LAZ in their May letter appears to clear the Zambian president of corruption outside the court room. No one outside a court room can clear another of a crime. Only a court of law can clear the president and address the questions such as whether the president is or is not a public officer in accordance with the Anti Corruption Act. Even the issue of presidential immunity in cases where evidence appears to suggest that the president may have dipped is finger in the public till belongs to courts.
Besides prosecution, the Nkoyeni mansion saga just like the astounding revelation by the president’s own mouth piece Mr. Chanda that they meaning the president were aware of the court ruling in the minister’s motor vehicle case are clear impeachable grounds. How with the sacred principle of separation of powers in the constitution and the president having sworn to uphold it yet come to know what the court was going to rule?
In South Africa and earlier in Zimbabwe, important precedents have been established wherein ruling parties have revolted against their own leaders and it has worked. This is a new phenomenon in the SADC region that instead of forces outside ruling parties have rallied together in order to keep power and ‘solved’ the problem which threatened their hold onto that power.
In other countries, this formular may not sound realistic but regardless, the values of the constitution should be upheld. In Zambia, the constitution has a solution in its article 108 to what is happening now. It is perfectly lawful for parliament to impeach the president for the grounds stipulated such as violating the constitution itself, the law and for gross misconduct.
This power is not a decoration. It is one of the safety valves provided anywhere for the country to resort to when in situations such as we are in s that the country can move on. The constitution’s article 108 minimum legal thresholds for impeachment of the president have been met in the Nkoyenimansion scandal and the Chanda revelation that the president is in fact running the courts and trailing individual judges. What remains simply is the political will to do it.