PRESS STATEMENT
Lusaka, Tuesday, 12 July 2022

UPDATE ON INVESTIGATIONS BEING CONDUCTED INVOLVING THE FORMER FIRST LADY AND THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE MY HOME TOWN COMMITTEE

The nation is aware that the Financial Intelligence Centre recently published its trends analysis report which was themed “Cash Bonanza”. According to the report, the year 2021 was characterized by people being found with a lot of money which was sitting outside the established financial systems in the country. This led to cash purchases of high value properties such as real estate, motor vehicles and other items, without any proper trail of how the items were acquired and where the money came from.

This is not a trend only in Zambia but globally, and as financial investigators our duty is to investigate whatever information comes to us whether directly or indirectly to its logical conclusion. In this regard investigations are done backwards from asset to owner to source as apposed from illegal activity to perpetrator to asset.

Investigations are not targeted at any particular individual. Investigations can be instituted on a high value property which then leads us to the owner. It must also be noted that seizure/restriction of property is part of the investigations. While investigators are verifying other facts, the property in question needs to be restricted/seized so that it is not disposed off by the suspect.

The law is blind as you are aware and does not choose status, colour, religion nor gender. It’s equally applied to all citizens.

No one is immune to investigations, no one. Only the former President and the sitting President are immune to prosecution.

With that said; allow me to specifically update the nation on the two investigations that Drug Enforcement Commission is handling that have rocked the social media space.

  1. Regarding the case involving the former First Lady, Mrs. Esther Nyawa Tembo Lungu, the investigations started with an intelligence report of 15 flats having been abandoned in State Lodge Area. After initial verifications with Ministry of Lands, it showed that the property number was not captured in the system. Further verification with Chongwe Council revealed that the property was sitting on a property No. F/11031 which number was given back to Ministry of Lands to verify who confirmed that, that property number was on offer to a Mr. Benard Chituta and that it was a farm based in Kasama.

Further investigations with the daughter to Mr. Chituta revealed that her father had no property in State Lodge. This lead to us as DEC to pounce on the flats as they had been abandoned at which point my team was then able to verify that the property was for a Mrs. Esther Nyawa Tembo through a Zesco prepaid meter number. At this point the Commission did not know which Esther Nyawa Tembo this was. Thereafter, following the media publication, the Lawyer to the former First Lady made a claim that the said flats were for the former First Lady.

We then invited her to come for an interview on Thursday, 7th July 2022, a date which the lawyers wrote informing us that it was not convenient for them. They proposed today, 12th July 2022 at 10:00hrs which was also not convenient for us. As you are aware, the country is hosting the AU summit and following social media reports that some sections of society would want to raid the Commission on this day. The interview has been postponed to a later date and we want to mention as DEC that we have a lot of respect for the former First Lady as the mother of the nation, and in this regard we would be comfortable to interview her from wherever she will be comfortable. All we want is to establish facts and bring this matter to a logical conclusion. It is unfortunate that the properties we are investigating have lead us to her. (Am sure no one wants to be in my position right now – nevertheless we have to do a professional job.

As the Commission, we responded to the lawyers informing them of our unavailability to attend to the matter today and instead we pushed the date forward. The nation shall be informed once the matter is concluded.

  1. On Friday, 8th July 2022, the Drug Enforcement Commission received information about some high value vehicles which were parked in a yard in Lusaka. These vehicles included a Lexus, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Range Rover, two (2) Toyota Land cruisers and a Toyota Hiace , We then conducted an operation in which the said motor vehicles were seized and verifications of their ownership details immediately commenced. So far, the Commission has established the names in which these motor vehicles are registered of which one is a company and Mr. Ndambo is not a Director or Shareholder. None of the motor vehicles is registered in the names of James Ndambo or “My Home Town” as alleged by social media.

As a Commission, we therefore wish to dismiss media reports that we are investigating the South African businessman in connection with those vehicles or indeed anything else. If, however, Mr. Ndambo claims that the said motor vehicles are his, we shall still record the necessary statements for us to conclude the matter professionally.

Allow me to emphasize that the law is blind to colour, race and status and for us as DEC, our work is driven by the intelligence information received with no malice at all.

The Commission wishes to assure the general public that we are not playing politics but are merely executing our mandate professionally without fear or favour.

I thank you.

Mary Chirwa
DIRECTOR GENERAL
DRUG ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION