Zambia’s Former President’s Lawyer Denounces Government Seizure of Family Properties
The lawyer representing Zambia’s former President Edgar Lungu has strongly criticized the government’s recent takeover of approximately 20 properties linked to the Lungu family, labeling it a political witch hunt. While Zambia’s current president has been actively cracking down on corruption, critics argue that he is specifically targeting political opponents. The government officially seized the properties from the Lungu family last week, which include 15 two-story flats, a three-story lodge, a farm, and a house.
Seizure Under the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crimes Law
The properties were confiscated under the 2010 Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crimes Law, which grants the state the authority to seize assets believed to have been obtained through illicit means. Makebi Zulu, Lungu’s lawyer, stated that neither he nor his clients have been officially notified or served notice regarding any legal proceedings pertaining to the asset seizures.
Zulu further revealed that his clients have cooperated with law enforcement agencies since the investigation began last year, providing detailed explanations regarding the acquisition of the properties. He accused the state of intentionally withholding this information to discredit and embarrass Lungu, his wife Esther, and their children. Zulu firmly asserted the innocence of his clients, expressing disappointment with the government’s failure to conduct thorough investigations.
Allegations of Abuse of Law and Political Witch Hunt
Emmanuel Mwamba, spokesperson for Lungu’s Patriotic Front party, criticized the government for abusing the law and expressed concern that the properties were seized prior to the completion of investigations. Mwamba accused law enforcement agencies of conducting a political witch hunt against Patriotic Front members and the former president’s family.
Gilbert Phiri, the director of public prosecutions in Zambia, issued a warning that the government will persist in its anti-corruption efforts until it sees tangible results. Phiri acknowledged the slow progress in asset recovery but emphasized the determination to combat crime and corruption.
Calls for Impartiality and Justice
Boniface Cheembe, the executive director of the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, a human rights NGO, expressed hope that the prosecutors involved will not exhibit bias. While recognizing the current government’s campaign against corruption, Cheembe urged authorities to avoid further dividing the nation and ensure that institutions can function independently. He emphasized the importance of justice prevailing once all necessary procedures have been followed.
Critics of President Hakainde Hichilema argue that despite his administration’s arrests and investigations into alleged corruption by leaders of the previous regime, no convictions have been secured thus far. President Hichilema maintains that the fight against corruption is not intended to victimize his political opponents, but rather to restore transparency and accountability in the country.
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