President Rupiah Banda is upset with his special assistant for press Dickson Jere for allegedly acquiring a farm in Eastern province using the president’s name.
Jere has forcibly bought a farm next to that of the president in Chipata area at a cost of US$100, 000 (About K500 million at the time of purchase).
But the way Jere has acquired this farm for cash has raised a lot of questions at State house and has angered a lot of neighbors in the normally peaceful area where most farmers are relatives and have co-existed in harmony for decades.
Jere forced a senior resident of Chipata to sale him the farm even though the farm was already sold to former Member of Parliament for Chipata Mathews Mwale.
Mwale had agreed with the former owner of the farm and neighbor of president Banda at the farm to pay for the large farm installments. Mwale had paid US$20, 000 and was struggling to raise the balance.
Suddenly Dickson Jere appeared on the scene and using State House Machinery and influence told the elderly farmer to sale the farm to ‘Sate House’.
The old man explained that the farm was already sold to Mwale. Jere would have non of this and forced the old man to refund Mwale. Jere paid for the refund, according to information received by the Watchdog. Jere immediately paid cash for the farm.
The old man and chiefs in the area were shocked. They wondered how president Band could do such a thing as they were given the impression that it was the president buying the farm.
When president Banda visited Chipata recently, the old man (Former owner of the farm) decided to confront president Banda and ask him why he did such an abominable thing to his neighbors.
Jere instructed security to bar the old man from meeting the president. But the old man had his own connections and used chiefs to meet the head of State.
The old man finally met the president and asked him why he had sent a ‘rude boy’ to buy his farm and ruin good relationships with the other people involved.
The president expressed ignorance on the farm deal. He said it had taken him a lot of years to buy and develop his farm and wondered how Jere, in civil service barely two years, had secured himself a $100, 000 cash transaction.
The president later asked Jere about the deal to which he said it was his private arrangement and has nothing to do with the president.
Jere’s fellow presidential aides and other State House staff are wondering how Jere raised such money stating that even the allowances he gets from president Banda’s numerous trips could not meet that. They accuse Jere of living a lavish lifestyle.
Jere, a former freelance journalist, is now a civil servant earning about $2000 (K10 million).
State house staff says Jere is locked in power struggle with senior MMD officials (NEC), cabinet ministers and other leaders on who controls State house. He has been accused of even taking over as personal secretary to the president to make sure that no person can the president without his permission.
According to sources at State House, the president has been advised by the intelligence and other advisors that the raw and ‘rude’ nature of Jere reflects largely on the way the presidency is perceived and due to his gross incompetence and inadequacies; he constantly blames others and promotes internal wrangles.
A year ago, president Banda had resolved to fire Jere but the latter pleaded for his job.