SANAC calls for inquiry into mukula trade

…. Chifire says without a public inquiry, the truth about the Mukula trade of the past decade would remain elusive

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (29-04-2024) – The Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) urged President Hakainde Hichilema to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Mukula trade of the past decade.

According to Gregory Chifire, Executive Director at SANAC, the public had a right to understand how this trade was conducted, especially by those entrusted with managing the country’s resources.

The call for a commission of inquiry came following the arrest of Ackson Tembo, the proprietor of ACK Logistics Ltd, the primary trader and exporter of Mukula Timber in Zambia over the last decade.

Chifire emphasized that without a public inquiry, the truth about the Mukula trade of the past decade would remain elusive.

Revelations from the court case involving former Minister of Lands, Jean Kapata, further necessitated this inquiry.

Chifire highlighted the need for transparency regarding the Mukula trade, which was riddled with corruption and illegal activities.

He noted that Tembo’s arrest on April 18th in Lusaka for alleged offenses related to the Mukula trade, including obtaining funds from various individuals and companies allegedly linked to the trade, underscored the importance of a fair trial and accountability.

According to the statement issued by police spokesperson Rae Hamppnga, Tembo faces two charges of obtaining money by false pretenses and obtaining pecuniary advantage.

“The first charge pertains to an incident where Tembo allegedly received $200,000 USD from a Mozambican national between June 6, 2021, and September 30, 2021, purportedly for supplying ten containers of Mukuka logs,” he said.

In the second charge it is alleged that Tembo received K1,900,000 for the sale of a Scania bus and two Volvo trucks and trailers to Kariki Investment Limited on November 23, 2021, in Lusaka.

Chifire stated that his organization is aware that on April 18th, the Police in Lusaka apprehended Mr. Ackson Tembo, the owner of ACK Logistics Ltd, for purported offenses connected to the Mukula trade.

“Allegations include receiving USD 200,000 from a Mozambican national, Mr. Berto Barcara Pasoal, another USD 200,000 from a Congolese national, Mr. Osembe Pena Alumba, USD 135,000 from a Zambian national, Mr. Isdore Tetamashimba of Norwest Quarries Ltd, who also serves as the Vice President of the Zambia Association of Timber and Forestry based Industries, and ZMK 1,900,000 from a Zambian company named Kariki Investments Ltd,” stated.

“These funds are purportedly linked to activities within the Mukula trade,” he added.

And as such Chifire said SANAC will monitor the proceedings of the commission of inquiry to ensure justice was served.

Chifire also referenced the court case where former Minister Jean Kapata sued News Diggers Media Limited for libel, which revealed unconstitutional decisions regarding the proceeds of Mukula sales and selective banning of Mukula trade, among other illegalities.

Chifire stressed the importance of establishing a Commission of Inquiry to uncover the truth about the Mukula trade’s beneficiaries and to prevent further exploitation of Zambia’s natural resources.

In doing so, Chifire suggested the country could ensure transparency, accountability, and justice in the management of its resources.

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