Thursday, November 03, 2011
By Chibaula Silwamba
Thu 03 Nov. 2011, 10:00 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata has appointed forgery-convict and corruption suspect Xavier Chungu as his permanent secretary for Luapula Province, highly-placed sources at Cabinet Office revealed yesterday.
And President Sata has appointed Emmanuel Mwamba the late former president Frederick Chiluba's spokesperson as his permanent secretary for Northern Province while renowned marketer Augustine Sebuya will be Western Province permanent secretary. According to the sources, President Sata has also appointed the former director general of the Zambia Security Intelligence Service Xavier Chungu.
Upon coming to power last month, President Sata coined an anti-corruption slogan of "I am allergic to corruption" and has been firing some senior public officials he claims are corrupt.
However, his latest appointee, Chungu, has been facing corruption cases resulting from his dealings when he served as spy chief during the corruption-laced regime of Chiluba between 1991 and 2001.
Chungu, Chiluba and other Chiluba-allied senior government officials were in February 2003 charged with 168 counts of theft of more than $40million public funds.
Chungu has never been acquitted. Most of his cases are still active in courts of law.
Chiluba, who died in June 2011 at his Kabulonga residence, was controversially acquitted in 2009, a judgment President Sata said was engineered by then president Rupiah Banda.
The London High Court in 2007 found Chiluba and several of his allies guilty of theft of US$46 million public funds and ordered them to refund US$58 million but the Banda government, which was reluctant to fight corruption, declined to register the judgment in Zambian courts.
Amidst his prosecution, Chungu in June 2004 fled Zambia and went into hiding.
He was reported to be in Portugal and briefly in Zambia's eastern neighbour, Mozambique, where he attempted to seek asylum through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR representative to Mozambique, Victoria Akyeampong - who was believed to be pushing for Chungu's asylum application with Mozambican authorities - in 2007 told The Post that: "He Chungu was here but now he is in South Africa."
Ahead of the September 2006 presidential elections, Sata - then main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) candidate - assured the people of Luapula Province, the homeland of Chungu and Chiluba, that he would not continue the prosecution of the duo when elected head of state.
Drumming up support for himself and his parliamentary candidates in Luapula Province at a rally in the provincial capital - Mansa, Sata said Zambia National Commercial Bank former managing director Samuel Musonda, Chiluba and Chungu should not be arrested but should instead be made to explain how they used plundered money on president Levy Mwanawasa's election in 2001.
Sata's statement attracted sharp condemnation countrywide and partly led to his electoral defeat to then incumbent Mwanawasa.
In 2006, Chiluba had endorsed the candidacy of Sata over his 2001 handpicked successor, Mwanawasa, who had brought corruption charges against him.
Following the death of Mwanawasa on August 19, 2008 half way into his second term and subsequent election of Rupiah Banda on October 30, 2008 as head of state, Chungu returned to Zambia.
The Task force on Corruption, set up by Mwanawasa to probe corruption that took place during Chiluba's decade-long rule, issued a statement through its chairperson Maxwell Nkole, who is now home affairs permanent secretary, about Chungu's return.
"Today December 3, 2008, the fugitive suspect known as Mr Xavier Franklin Chungu arrived at the airport in Lusaka on his own but alert security officers at the airport spotted him and he was immediately apprehended by officers of the Zambia Police Service and the Task Force officers. He was then taken to police headquarters.
"At Police headquarters, Mr Chungu was arrested for an initial charge of contempt of court in that he jumped bail on 1st June, 2004 and went into self imposed exile whilst facing charges of theft by public servant and theft of motor vehicles. He is expected to appear in court as soon as it is possible on contempt charges whilst the other criminal charges will be recommended at a later point in time.
"The surrender and arrest of Mr Chungu follows protracted efforts by government law enforcement agents working with the Task force to ensure that both the local and warrant of arrest and the Interpol arrest warrant are executed.
"The development brings to an end one of the most vexing issues that the Task Force on corruption has had to deal with working in international boundaries."
The corruption prosecution against Chungu resumed.
He was also charged for forgery and uttering a false document in relation to his passport.
Though corruption cases are on-going, Chungu was in August 2009 convicted and sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour for forging passport number ZH 88471 purporting to show that it was issued properly when in fact not.
He was also charged for falsifying a document contrary to Section 352 of the Penal Code CAP 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
In January 2011, ahead of the September 20 elections, Chungu pledged to campaign for then incumbent Banda.
"Let it be known that I am busy and in my own style campaigning for the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda to score the highest presidential victory ever in Luapula Province," stated Chungu in a media release.
The PF condemned Chungu's campaign for Banda.
PF spokesperson at the time, Given Lubinda - now information minister and chief government spokesperson - said Chungu's support for Banda would "dampen the fight against corruption and cast a bad image on Zambia internationally".
Seventy-four year old Banda, barely three years in power, lost to age-mate Sata.
Since coming to power, President Sata has frequently and publicly vowed to fight corruption.
"During the campaigns we made an undertaking that we shall robustly fight corruption and we shall do just that. The policy of this government is that any person who has aggrieved the Zambian people economically and otherwise, in the past or present, must face the law," stated President Sata in an October 17, 2011 media release from his office.
"Make no mistake about it, because we are resolute on combating corruption and all its offshoots even if it means losing friends. We are ready to make that sacrifice for the sake of the Zambian people whom we promised and as a result they gave us the mandate to preside over this country's affairs."
Newly-appointed permanent secretary for Northern Province, Mwamba is currently in court on charges of allegedly authoring and publishing two contemptuous articles that circulated on the Zambian Watchdog website that analysed a murder trial.