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Former Zambian President to Lose Funds, Properties

In Zambia, funds and properties belonging to former President Frederick Chiluba and 19 of his co-accused could be confiscated. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Mike Mulongoti says the former president and his associates could lose their properties if they fail to pay back the 46 million dollars a London judge ordered them to pay back to the Zambian government. But Chiluba supporters discount the government’s recovery effort. They describe it as “pure victimization” against Chiluba, since the former president’s wife is facing similar charges of misappropriating government funds.

From the capital, Lusaka, Mike Mulongoti tells the Voice Of America that Zambia’s attorney general is in the process of filing legal papers in court to issue a seizure notice for funds belonging to the former president and his associates, which were frozen last year in Britain, Belgium and other European countries.

“In a trial of that magnitude, you have pre-trial activities, which involve the aggrieved parties praying the court to attach certain assets or money to take care of the eventuality that when finally judgment is passed, in the likely event that the aggrieved party wins the case, they would want to secure the properties and assets,” he pointed out.

Mulongoti says that with the assets secured the complainant can carry out the judgment of the court.

“The attorney general had applied to the court to help attach some properties and monies that they were able to lay their hands on, so to speak, and during trial, these assets are in the hands of the court,” explains Mulongoti.

He says it is erroneous for people to create an impression that it’s only the former president who is being charged with corruption.

“It’s not the former president alone. Mind you, the suit carried about nine people and the judgment included altogether 19 people. So it is the assets and properties associated with the whole court case. So it’s not possible that you can only take the properties that were seized from the former president, but also those others that were part of that suit,” he noted.

Mulongoti denied the former president and his wife are being victimized.

“A former president occupies a position of trust in the land, and if a former president is tried with other people, the name of the former president would be at the top of the list because he had this trust, which was bestowed on him as the custodian of the constitution. So it is not that he is being victimized alone,” he noted.

Mulongoti says he believes that some people are creating the impression that the government is on a witch-hunt.

“Whichever way you look at it, that status that he occupies does not make him an ordinary citizen. And because of that an impression could be created that he is being targeted as an individual. But you understand that the buck stops with him. So the implication is that if the buck stops with him, all the others will naturally appear subservient in the whole matter. But yet I think the issue had to do with all those, except that his was a high profile case,” he said.