Hong Kong, Nov.30– A Zambian former minister who stashed close to US$420 million in an electrified underground bunker has spent his first night in a police cell.

Liato (l) served as Banda's (r) labour minister. PHOTO: postzambia.com

Austin Liatio was detained at Lusaka’s Woodlands Police Tuesday after investigators recorded a statement from him.

He presented himself before a team of investigators in a flashy flowery beach shirt and walking stick – a scene onlookers likened to a mafia dress code.

Making his first appearance in public since his buried treasure was dug-out last Thursday, Liato – a self-made ‘money grower’- looked reserved and showed no apprehension.

A crack taskforce investigating alleged mismanagement of public resources during ex-president Rupiah Banda’s three year rule, questioned Liato before holding him overnight at a police detention facility in the poshy residential area of Woodlands.

“Mr. Liato is yet to be charged,” Elizabeth Kanjela, a spokesperson for police said. “Investigations are still ongoing.”

Liato is being investigated for concealing a huge amount of money in two metal safes at his farming grounds, west of Lusaka.

He faces money laundering, profiteering and tax evasion charges and could face a long jail term if found guilty.

The new Zambian leader, Michael Sata, has warned that his administration will prosecute any offenders found to have mismanaged state resources – a move his critics have described as witch-hunting.


Former labour minister, Liato to appear before investigators. PHOTO: ukzambians.co.uk

Hong Kong, Oct. 28 – A Zambian ex-minister who buried 2.1 billion Zambian Kwacha (approx. 420 million US Dollars) at his farm in two metal safes is to turn himself before investigators Tuesday.

Austin Liato – a former minister of labour – has not commented or reported the money missing since it was dug-out from an electrified underground bunker last week Thursday.

A crack taskforce investigating allegation of mismanagement and plunder of public resources during past president Rupiah Banda’s three year reign is expected to formally arrest and charge Liato once he turns himself in.

Investigators are yet to establish the source of the money or why it was buried and concealed under thick layers of concrete.

Zambian leader, Michael Sata described the way the money was hidden as “mafia-style“, hours after it was dug-out.

Hong Kong, Nov. 25 – Zambian President Michael Sata has warned that his administration will prosecute any former officers that served in past president Rupiah Banda‘s government if they are found to have been involved in illicit deals while they served in various portfolios.

President Sata to prosecute plunderers of state resources. PHOTO: afp

“Let me make it abundantly clear that this is just the beginning and our colleagues should not panic or resort to desperate measures of seeking false public sympathy by mischaracterising legitimate investigations as persecution,” he said in a news release Friday. “This is not a witch-hunt, we are moving systematically by taking into consideration all leads and clues into what happened in the past”

President Sata expressed shock at the discovery of and seizure of K2.1 billion (approx. US$400,000) from ex-labour minister, Austin Liato’s farm in the outskirts of the capital, Lusaka.

He said he had learnt with great shock, the discovery of huge sums of money concealed in a strange and most unusual manner at the former labour minister’s farm.

“No doubt, the Mafia-style under which this money was hidden raises serious questions about how the same was acquired. It breaks my heart to see how someone could go to such extremes to conceal money if it was legitimately acquired,” President Sata said. “This only goes to show the Zambian people the extent to which the mandate they gave those they entrusted with authority to preside over affairs of state was abused.”

President Sata said unearthing a total sum of K2.1 billion buried in two steel trunks under a thick layer of concrete slab in a highly fortified and electronically fitted structure sent a wrong signal about the image of the country.

He said Thursday’s burst was one of the many operations the combined team of investigators were carrying out regarding suspected criminal activity that took place under the previous regime headed by Rupiah Banda.

Stacks of Zambian currency - Kwacha.

“Of late, some suspects have been unreasonably grumbling by issuing pre-emptive statements to try and threaten a duly elected government against carrying out its legitimate mandate. This discovery is a serious indictment on all those elements that may be facing possible charges of corruption and other forms of wrong-doing including those who have seen it opportune and convenient to betray the Zambian people by siding with such people,” he said.

He urged the investigating wings to ensure that they follow the due process of the law and take to court only those cases they are satisfied with.

President Sata has since applauded the combined team of Zambia Police Service, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for conducting a successful operation that resulted in a seizure of K2.1 billion cash at Liato’s Mumbwa farm.

State House ready to testify against fraudsters masquerading as President Sata’s representatives. PHOTO: zambianwatchdog.com

Hong Kong, Nov. 22 – In the mix of the continued firing and hiring of civil servants by President Michael Sata, some tricksters have found an opportunity to hoodwink the Zambia citizenry by dangling fake job placements in exchange for financial assistance.

The tricksters are claiming to be President Sata’s emissaries and they are soliciting for financial assistance and job placement in both private and state operated firms.

State House has in this vain urged the business community and the Zambian public into be wary of a flurry of tricksters masquerading as agents of President Sata as they solicit for financial assistance and job placements.

“State House wishes to caution any individual or organisation in both the private and public sector approached in the name of the President or any senior State House official to exercise due diligence,” said State House Tuesday.

State House has since called on Zambians to report any such matters to law enforcement agencies.

“State House stands ready to testify in any court case that may be brought against such fraudsters,” read the news release.

Former Zambian leader Rupiah Banda invited to co-lead election observation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. PHOTO: reuters

Hong Kong, Nov. 22– President Michael Sata’s administration has declined to meet the expenses of ex-president Rupiah Banda’s delegation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  where he has been invited to monitor elections by the Jimmy Carter Centre in that country.

DRC is bracing itself for presidential and legislative elections and authorities in that country have invited foreign observers to monitor the vote.

State House in Zambia said Tuesday; it would not pay for Banda’s delegation as the invitation from the US-based Carter Centre was personal.

“Since the invitation is to Mr Banda as an individual, government has difficulties in spending taxpayers’ money on other people he would want to accompany him on this purely exclusive invitation,” President Sata said.

The Zambian head of state has meanwhile congratulated his predecessor on his assignment as co-leader of the International Observation Mission for the presidential and legislative elections in the DRC.

Hong Kong, Nov. 16 – Outgoing Zambian envoy to Canada, Nevers Mumba, has been embroiled in a scam involving financial impropriety at the Zambian mission in Toronto, Canada.

Sacked envoy, Nevers Mumba refusing to go back to Zambia. PHOTO: theglobenewspaper.blogspot.com

“Dr Mumba has been resisting his recall but we are now informed that he is coming on a private visit for some political engagements in Zambia,” said Zambian President Michael Sata, “We hope that Dr Mumba’s visit is a self-sponsored one because if not, the state shall recover from him any taxpayer’s money that would be spent on this purely private adventure.”

The Zambian leader has since expressed concern over the allegations of financial irregularities at the Zambian High Commission in Canada.

President Sata said information obtained so far suggested serious financial impropriety at the Zambian mission, which was under the supervision of Nevers Mumba.

He said he had learnt that Mumba intends to travel to Zambia on a private visit soon and hoped the visit would provide the law enforcement agencies an opportunity to engage Mumba on the financial matters at the mission.

Mumba is among the diplomats that have been sacked by President Sata.

Bona graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration with honours in Accountancy at City University of Hong Kong. PHOTO: newzimbabwe.com

Hong Kong, Nov 16 – Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, Tuesday attended his daughter’s graduation at City University of Hong Kong.

Mugabe who has been placed under travel restrictions and accused of widespread human rights abuses in his country thanked the Hong Kong authorities for protecting Bona Mugabe, 22, from the media spotlight during her studies in Hong Kong.

Bona, who has lived in Hong Kong for more than three years, received a Bachelor in Business Administration with honours in Accountancy at City University of Hong Kong.

The Mugabes happy and joyous moment inside Chan Tai Ho Hall at City University of Hong Kong. PHOTO: herald.co.zw

Varsity spokeswoman Karen Cheng told reporters that Mugabe, 87, attended the ceremony on Tuesday with a group of about 20 people including his wife, Grace.

“They were taking photos among themselves, not with the other students,” she said.

The Mugabe group “drew some attention” but most of the other parents did not realize who they were, she added.

While here, the controversial Zimbabwean leader is expected to meet jewellers keen to import Zimbabwean diamonds after that country was recently cleared to export gems from the contested Marange mining zone.

From Hong Kong Mugabe is expected to proceed to mainland China for meetings with investors including an airline said to be exploring the possibility of a partnership with the struggling Air Zimbabwe.

Hong Kong, Nov. 16 – Zambian President Michael Sata has named a 20-member Technical Committee to draft the new Republican Constitution.

President Sata said in carrying out its functions, the Technical Committee shall refer to all previous Constitutional Review Commissions.

“There are expected to refer to the Chona Constitutional Review Commission, Mvunga Constitutional Review Commission, the 1991 Constitution of Zambia, and the Mwanakatwe Constitutional Review Commission Report and Draft Constitution,” he said.  “The Technical Committee will also review the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Report and Draft Constitution as well as the Zaloumis Electoral Reform Technical Committee Report and the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Report and Draft Constitution.”

President Sata emphasised that the Technical Committee would review the Mung’omba Draft Constitution and use it as the basis upon to develop the new constitution.

Sata named a 20-member team to draft the new Zambian Constitution. PHOTO: zambianwatchdog.com

He said the Technical Committee was also expected to consult widely and take into account the submissions forwarded.

“They are expected to consult local and international experts on constitutional law and practice, the members of the public at all provincial centres and incorporate in the new national constitution the views of the people as resolved in the provincial constitutional conventions,” said President Sata.

President Sata said the committee was also expected to consult and take into account the submissions of sector groups.

“The Technical Committee shall draft the national constitution based on its findings from the review process and best international constitutional practices and provisions of international conventions on human rights,” the President Sata said. “They shall also draft the Constitution of Zambia Bill to set the commencement date for the new Constitution, deal with transitional and other issues for the effective transition into a new constitutional regime under the Fourth Republic to be enacted by Parliament.”

He said the committee will draw up its programme of work and submit the same to the Secretary to Cabinet within seven days of its first sitting.

President Sata has since directed the committee to submit the whole report to him.

Full Terms of Reference for the Technical Committee  Drafting Zambia’s Constitution.

Bona Mugabe alias Tracy Guvamombe to graduate on Tuesday. PHOTO: southafrica-pig.blogspot.com

Hong Kong Nov. 13 – Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, is Tuesday expected to attend a graduation ceremony for daughter, Bona, who has been studying at the City University of  Hong Kong.

“Hie dude? Mugabe is in your city on a supposed official visit to China, but will attend a graduation ceremony for his daughter at some university in Hong Kong,” said a Zimbabwean journalist who asked not to be named.

Mugabe and his wife, Grace, will be on hand to witness their daughter’s graduation with a Bachelor of Accountancy degree at City University of Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“Mugabe is in Hong Kong attending the graduation of his daughter Bona that side. Just try and look out for him at the graduation,” said the journalist.

The stay and study here of 22 year-old Bona Mugabe alias Tracy Guvamombe has been marred by controversy.

On 17 February, 2009 the University of Hong Kong (HKU) distanced itself from the controversy, denying a report that she was a student here.

“We do not have a student by the name of Bona Mugabe on our student register, and we do not have any lady student from Zimbabwe who is reading for an undergraduate programme or is at the age of around 20,” HKU said in a statement.

Subsequent reports clarified that Bona was in fact enrolled at the City University of Hong Kong, which said she met normal admission requirements and her enrolment was not influenced by her parentage.

Due to the attention surrounding Robert Mugabe’s daughter her family enlisted the help of a female ex-government official to provide safety and supervision during her time in Hong Kong.

Bona’s presence in Hong Kong was exposed by her mother’s physical assault on a journalist in January 2009. Thereafter a protest started on the University of Zimbabwe campus in Harare on February 3, 2009 resulting in about 30 students requiring  medical attention.

The University of Zimbabwe students were protesting to the Chinese authorities that Bona should return to Zimbabwe and study in the same conditions as her peers.

Hong Kong’s government came under fire for allowing Mugabe’s daughter to live and study in the city despite international sanctions against her father and selected officials in his administration.

A check at a luxurious hotel located around Hong Kong’s Central area Saturday, spotted several African men and women – in a city whose population is mainly Asians or westerners.

It was not clear whether the group is part of Mugabe’s advance team because hotel authorities could not give out any guest details or the exact hotel Mugabe’s family is staying while in Hong Kong.  Mugabe’s delegation arrived from Singapore where he went for his routine medical check up.

One man with a South African accent said he was a visitor from the Democratic Republic of Congo and expressed ignorance at the heavy presence of Africans at a well known hotel in Central. It is likely that the Zimbabwean leader might be booked at the same hotel or another poshy one in Kowloon, slightly away from Central.

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to attend Bona's graduation then proceed to Beijing for bilateral talks. PHOTO: thepoke.co.uk

Mugabe’s latest trip abroad triggered fresh speculation over his health, having travelled to the Far East several times this year to seek treatment for what officials initially described as a cataract complaint.

The 87 year-old dismisses the speculation and declared himself “fit” after returning from Singapore at the end of October for what officials described as a private visit – his eighth to the region this year alone.

He is set to represent his ZANU PF party in the 2012 vote.

While here, the controversial Zimbabwean leader is expected to meet jewellers keen to import Zimbabwean diamonds after that country was recently cleared to export gems from the contested Marange mining zone.

From Hong Kong Mugabe is expected to proceed to mainland China for meetings with investors including an airline said to be exploring the possibility of a partnership with the struggling Air Zimbabwe.

Ex-spy boss Xavier Chungu under the watchful eye of a prison warder in Lusaka. PHOTO: Derrick Sinjela

Hong Kong Oct. 31 – Zambia’s former spy chief and ex-fugitive, Xavier Franklin Chungu, has been appointed as the country’s Permanent Secretary for Luapula Province.

Chungu served as head of the Zambia Security Intelligence Service under late second president Fredrick Chiluba’s administration.

Chungu and Chiluba with several other ex-officers were accused of theft of millions of dollars belonging to the Zambian Government while in office.

Investigators at the time believed that the former president and his inner circle, Chungu included, diverted state funds into privately held accounts overseas.

Late third president, Levy Mwanawasa broke ranks with Chiluba and dragged him and Chungu to court on graft charges under what he coined matrix of plunder.

It was during the graft investigations and court proceedings that the newly appointed PS jumped bail and fled the country in June 2004.

A well-built and energetic Chungu popularly known then as “XF” returned to Zambia in 2008 only to be re-arrested at the recently, renamed Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

Chungu sandwiched by cops while he flashes Banda's MMD party symbol. PHOTO: gettyimages

Chungu was later cleared of some of the many charges under past president, Rupiah Banda’s government.

In what seemed as a sign of appreciation early this year, XF threw his weight behind Banda’s re-election team ahead of the September 20 polls in which Banda lost to Sata.

Chungu, told reporters then that he had decided to campaign for Banda because he wanted him to secure a victory in Luapula Province, a region he has been appointed PS.

But Chungu’s friendship with incumbent President, Michael Sata, dates back many years, in May 2002, Chungu rescued Sata from prosecution.

This was in a legal suit in which then as Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Sata was charged with theft of two government motor vehicles, a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Hyundai Sonata.

Chungu stated that around 2000, the Office of the President acquired a Toyota Land Cruiser GX from Toyota Zambia.

“The motor vehicle was later given to Mr. Michael Sata in his personal capacity as a friend to the system,” Chungu said.

Chungu was among congregates who  attended a thanksgiving Catholic mass with President Sata over the past weekend in Lusaka.

Also appointed is Marketing and Public Relations specialist, Augustine Seyuba who has been sent to Western Province while former late second  president Fredrick Chiluba’s press aide, Emmanuel Mwamba has been appointed  Northern Province PS.