AN independent auditing firm should be engaged to carry out an inventory of all Lusaka City Council properties including those which have been illegally, secretly and corruptly disposed of, Evangelical Youth Alliance International president Reverend Moses Lungu has demanded.
In an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday, Rev. Lungu said he found it disturbing and shocking that the Minister of Local Government John Phiri defended the council’s questionable disposal of its properties.
“It is shocking that the Minister of Local Government in an attempt to defend the secret sale of Lusaka City Council properties misled the House and not only the House but the people of Zambia. He misled the entire nation. We demand that the minister apologizes and allows independent auditors to audit the council for the people of Zambia to know the truth,” he said.
Rev. Lungu said the revelations by Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo has exposed the Lusaka City Council to high levels of corruption and abuse of office, adding that what was thrown into public domain was just tip of the iceberg.
He said what happened should be a lesson to leaders to pay attention to various issues the people of Zambia were raising, adding that it was time for both ministers and MPs to take keen interest in the operations of councils across the country.
Rev. Lungu said it was embarrassing for senior Government officials to give incorrect information in the operations of councils.
“It is a fact that there is too much corruption within the Lusaka City council and it is one reason why the Council is financially unstable. I find it difficult to believe the statement from the minister on how they disposed of other council properties such as the Looters basketball court and the tennis court also,” he said.
Rev. Lungu said investigations should be instituted because there was more to what was happening in the Council.
He said there was something the Ministry of Local Government was hiding from the people of Zambia in the manner council properties were sold, adding that misleading Parliament was a serious offence which should not be tolerated.
And UPND deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo said the revelations of what was happening at the Lusaka City Council calls for a serious audit in order to fight corruption which has the institution to unacceptable levels.
Mr. Lifwekelo said the revelation that Dr. Phiri was given misleading information which he also used to mislead the House was embarrassing on the part of Government and calls for serious investigations.
On Tuesday, Ms. Masebo laid on the table of Parliament the Lusaka local authority’s report detailing the disposal of land near State House.
“Two weeks ago, a question was raised and put to the Minister of Local Government as to whether he was aware that LCC had disposed of assets relating to the property next to State House but in his response he said there was none that had been disposed of,” Ms Masebo said in her point of order.
Ms Masebo further said she had extracts from council reports showing that the said property had been surveyed, numbered and subdivided.
She expressed disappointment that the property which was strategically positioned (near State House) could be sold to private developers without security considerations.
In his ruling, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini ordered Dr Phiri to issue a ministerial statement this week regarding the piece of land near State House.
Last week, Dr Phiri denied that LCC had sold any property other than Looters land in Libala after being asked by Mafinga MMD Member of Parliament Catherine Namugala.
Dr Phiri said according to a report compiled by the LCC, the local authority was above board in its handling of its properties.