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Zambia's Ex-First Lady Esther Lungu Arrested on Fraud Charges

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Ayize claire

Jun 1, 2024

Esther Lungu and Daughter Face Allegations of Acquiring Properties with Proceeds of Crime Amid Political Tensions

Zambia's former First Lady, Esther Lungu and Edgar Lungu Former president of Zambia

Zambia's former First Lady, Esther Lungu, and her daughter, Chiyeso Katete, have been arrested on charges related to the possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime. The arrests took place on Thursday in Lusaka, along with a relative, Charles Phiri, according to authorities.

The state anti-drug agency reported that Ms. Lungu could not provide a reasonable explanation for acquiring a $1.5 million estate in the capital. Former President Edgar Lungu announced that the family intends to challenge the charges in court, claiming that the government is politically victimizing them to prevent his return to politics ahead of the 2026 elections. He also previously alleged that he was placed under house arrest due to his political activities, a claim the government denies.

Ms. Lungu, 66, was arrested for allegedly fraudulently acquiring a luxurious property in Lusaka's State Lodge area, consisting of 15 white double-storey flats. The property, jointly owned with others, was reportedly acquired between 2015 and 2023. Her daughter faces additional charges for acquiring another estate in Lusaka and possessing a high-cost house, four chicken runs, and related works.

After questioning, the accused were released on bond. Another daughter, Tasila Lungu, is also facing related charges and has been summoned to appear at the Drug Enforcement Commission on Monday.

Former President Lungu, who retired from politics after losing the presidency in 2021, announced a political comeback last October, resulting in the withdrawal of his retirement benefits.

His tenure left Zambia with significant debt and a struggling economy. President Hakainde Hichilema's administration has since intensified an anti-corruption campaign, targeting former officials and Mr. Lungu’s family members to recover allegedly looted resources.

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