FORMER first lady Christine Kaseba has not been evicted from 8 Reedbuck Lodge but has opted to move out of the lodge at her own will before the rentals which have been fully paid up to this month-end expire, Secretary to Cabinet Roland Msiska has revealed.
Dr Msiska has also revealed that Dr Kaseba had turned down several houses Government had identified for her and her family on grounds that the properties did not provide her with privacy or the owners had changed their minds for unexplained reasons.
Government has so far paid a whopping K2.2 million to Reedbuck Lodge for Dr Kaseba’s boarding and lodging and that a lot of effort had been made to secure permanent accommodation for the former first lady.
Dr Msiska said Government had at no time failed to accommodate Dr Kaseba and her family and that her current position was by choice as Government has had a standing arrangement with the proprietors of 8 Reedbuck Lodge to house on temporary basis former presidents or their spouses upon leaving State House.
Dr Msiska issued a statement yesterday after he was directed by President Edgar Lungu before he left for Mozambique for that country’s 40th independence anniversary,
He said that the current position of Dr Kaseba and her family was that she had opted to move out of 8 Reedbuck Lodge despite Government having paid for both boarding and lodging up to the end of June, 2015.
“The present position is that Dr Kaseba and her family have opted to move out of 8 Reedbuck Lodge despite Government having paid up to the end of June, 2015.
Following the demise of president Sata, Cabinet Office made arrangements to accommodate the former first family at 8 Reedbuck Lodge in Kabulonga in January 2015 after she moved out of State House.
“Government took out an initial lease of four months at 8 Reedbuck Lodge because this period was deemed sufficient to find permanent accommodation for the former first lady and her family.
“A number of properties were identified for the former first lady to view but they were found to be either unsuitable or the owners were unwilling to enter into an agreement with Government.
“As a result of this, the lease agreement with 8 Reedbuck Lodge was extended until a suitable accommodation was found for Dr Kaseba. This situation arose from the letter the proprietor wrote to Dr Kaseba asking her to leave the premises,” Dr Msiska said.
Yesterday, the Post newspaper carried a story that Government had stopped paying for Dr Kaseba’s accommodation at 8 Reedbuck Lodge and that the former first lady and her family had since been evicted from the Lodge.
The Post Newspaper reported that Dr Kaseba had moved in with her mother in Libala because she was allegedly evicted by the owners of the lodge even before the rentals Government had paid had expired.
But Dr Msiska said Dr Kaseba had declined several offers which Government had sourced for her and that the stand alone houses she preferred were not readily available on the market and that her current situation was optional.
He said soon after the death of president Michael Sata, Cabinet Office in line with the provisions of the Benefits of Former Presidents Act No 21 of 1998, made arrangements to accommodate Dr Kaseba and her family at 8 Reedbuck Lodge in Kabulonga in January after moving out of State House.
Dr Msiska said in late January, 2015, a property was found in Ibex Hill which was deemed suitable for Dr Kaseba and that the house was a five-bedroomed property, all en-suite and was sitting on a 10 acre piece of land.
He revealed that Dr Kaseba was invited to insect the property and was satisfied with the house after which a lease agreement was prepared and cleared by the Attorney General’s Chambers.
He stated that a request was then forwarded to the Treasury and money was made available to meet the cost for the first 12 months but just before the contract could be signed, Dr Kaseba changed her mind and refused to take up the house.
Dr Msiska explained that Government had identified more than five properties in Lilayi, Sunningdale, New Kasama, State Lodge and Woodlands but Dr Kaseba either rejected them or the owners were unwilling to enter into an agreement with Government for unknown reasons.
“It is worth noting properties which are standalone houses and are preferred by the former first lady are not readily available on the market.
“However, Cabinet Office is constantly engaging real estate agents who specialize in the high-end property market to find suitable accommodation.
And President Lungu arrived in Mozambique to attend that country’s 40th independence anniversary which falls today.
He was accopanied by first president Kenneth Kaunda, his two special assistants, Amos Chanda for Press and Kaizer Zulu for politics.
The Head of State returns home tomorrow and will proceed to Mfuwe to beging his marathon campaigns for the parliamentary by-elections in Malambo, Mulobezi and Petauke.