Tuesday 23rd January 2018

TODAY’S BLOG: Lungu and his close advisors are all drowning in allegations of corruption

It is becoming increasingly clear that Edgar Lungu is a crooked man who surrounds himself with equally crooked advisors. In recent months, Margaret Mwanakatwe, Kaizer Zulu, Kelvin Bwalya and Edgar Lungu himself have all been embroiled in charges of corruption or thieving. Indeed, it would seem that the old phrase: ‘You are the company that you keep’ is true.

 

Lungu’s Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe, still owes the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission K1.5million through a defaulted loan taken way back in 2011 for her company AluWorks Industries. The Commission which Mwanakatwe has effectively stolen funds from was created to improve the lives of marginalised citizens who have fallen victim to the economic inequality left unresolved by Lungu’s government. Lungu has pledged his commitment to levelling the playing field for women and youth to participate in the national economy. However, not only has the economy faltered under Lungu, he has failed to bridge the gap in opportunities for the vulnerable and further to this, his ministers owe millions to the commissions designed to resolve these problems.

 

Kaizer Zulu, Lungu’s Special Assistant for Political Affairs also has a chequered past of crime and corruption allegations. In April last year, it was claimed that Zulu received about K1.4million from Chinese nationals for facilitating an appointment with President Lungu. In September, Zulu was accused of firing gun shots at Lusaka Businessman Enock Kavindele Junior after a dispute at Lusaka’s Chrismar Hotel. Later in December, it was alleged that he demanded $100,000 each from lobbying members from the PF and MMD who wished to be adopted for the 2016 elections. Back in 2015 it was asked how Lungu could sustain a legitimate position in the State House whilst he surrounds himself with criminals, and yet since then, nothing has changed.

 

Last week, in a tirade of unfounded accusations directed towards Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND, Kelvin Bwalya, Lungu’s Vice Chairperson for Elections did very little but draw attention to his own prolific criminal history. In the past, Bwalya has been found guilty of swindling close to $300,000 from PF party investors and stealing government money. Despite his thieving, in July 2011, he was arrested for issuing cheques amounting K500million from an insufficiently funded account. More recently in 2014, Bwalya was suspended of his license to practice law by the Lusaka High Court after stealing $126,000 from a client.

 

To this last charge, Lungu has also been found guilty. In September 2009, it was proven by the Legal Practitioners Committee in court that Lungu had stolen K 36,080.42 from the widow, Ms Wendy Kanyanta, despite already charging her K 40,000 for his services. Controversially, Lungu’s personal finances have more than doubled since his presidency began, from K10 million before the 2015 polls to K23.7 million 18months later. Under Lungu’s flailing economy, it would be remarkable if this figure had not been attained without theft and corruption.

 

Surely the State House cannot continue to be run by thieves and crooks. It would seem that Lungu and his advisors are now all drowning in their corruption charges. They are stealing money from their own supporters and preventing funds from reaching those who need it most. It remains to be seen whether the PF’s efforts to rig the August 11th election will help them overcome Hakainde Hichilema’s UPND opposition. Though if the Zambian people choose to vote against a party of crooks and criminals, then perhaps the will of the people can bring this era of corruption to an end.

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