BREBNER Changala has said Zambia has a lot of criminals masquerading as lawyers or politicians.
He said Zambia’s top leadership comprised nothing but elected criminals.
And Changala has challenged Chongwe PF council chairman Geoffrey Chumbwe to tell the nation if he was cleared of the Meridian Bank aggravated robbery case that saw him flee into South Africa.
Changala, a civil rights activist, said the country was in serious financial and accountability position because those in leadership were criminals who had reinvented themselves and walked into the corridors of power.
He lamented the citizens’ lack of scrutiny of the background of those in leadership who tended only to reveal their true colours once in office.
“What is a tragedy with such kind of high-profile criminal act is that these people now are very close to power and everybody else ignores what transgression they were involved in at one time. I can even go further, this is why this country finds itself in a lot of serious financial challenges because you find that the top leadership is nothing but elected criminals and you entrust your lives and financial engagements, contracts, and later you surrender the Treasury on their laps and what do you get in return? Daylight robbery. They are stealing from you because you are not interrogating these people. How are they coming into power? What is their background? Who are they? What lives have they led before?” Changala asked.
“I can tell you without injuring anybody, we have a lot of criminals who are masquerading as lawyers, of course, trained lawyers, but who are nothing but criminals, politicians etc. And when the day of reckoning comes, you will be shocked what these criminals who have found themselves into power either as politically connected friends of those in power or indeed political players themselves.”
And Changala challenged Chumbwe to state whether he was cleared of the aggravated robbery he allegedly staged at Meridian Bank years back.
But when contacted for a comment, Chumbwe asked to be left alone and accused the author of being used by politicians.
“When was that? Now can you imagine if it’s in the 80s and you want to talk about it now, does it make sense? My friend don’t waste my time, okay, and don’t do politics in that way, that’s very dangerous. I know you are being used by politicians, don’t waste my time,” warned Chumbwe before abruptly hanging up.
But Changala said leaders must undergo a thorough scrutiny of what kind of life they led before being entrusted with leadership.
He insisted that Chumbwe was not fit to hold any public office owing to his criminal past.
Changala asked the PF to keep Chumbwe away from public resources and office until the status of his criminal record was known.
“Chumbwe staged a robbery from elsewhere, he had inside information on the then Meridian Bank. He knew what time people where bringing in money. This is a matter that has never seen full closure. And the case of Chumbwe is the case that one wonders why it has never seen the end. My mind on this robbery is still as fresh as the day it happened because for your information I am a banker, I used to work for Zanaco [Zambia National Commercial Bank] and this is the robbery that shook the banking sector where we had to put up a lot of stringent measures to protect our depositors’ money – the stolen money was for the then Postal and Telecommunications Company (PTC). [It was] stolen at the entrance of the bank when the money was going to be deposited. It was not stolen elsewhere but in Meridian Bank premises,” said Changala. “This was an armed robbery which saw Chumbwe’s face flushed out. In fact, they were many but he was a prominent figure and the police put a price tag on him. It was his photo that was flying all over, it was Chumbwe. Now you can see, from a robber to a mayor. It’s an extraordinary transition and life. We are in serious trouble. When I talk, I want to remind the people that we need to check who are leading us and I am telling you that majority of them are scary criminals.”
Changala further challenged the Zambian Police to state Chumbwe’s criminal standing knowing that he had held various political positions both under the MMD and now PF.
“After that robbery at Meridian Bank, has Chumbwe appeared before a competent court of law to clear his name? What is the position of the Zambia Police on that robbery at Meridian Bank? How did he find himself…he has held a lot of positions in PF – provincial chairman, provincial this, provincial that – but when was he cleared so that people’s comfort is assured that we are not having robbers in positions of influence? Those questions are legitimate and must be thrown to Chumbwe,” Changala said adding; “He had run away, he went to South Africa. He went and lived in South Africa for many years only to come back as a political giant with his close association with the late Anthony Irwin. We must scrutinise some of these people. I tell you we have a lot of questionable characters in the corridors of power, a lot of them. On Chumbwe, we are dealing with someone with a criminal record,” said Changala.
In 2006, Chumbwe, who was then MMD Lusaka Province chairman, was jointly charged with a Lusaka businessman Irwin Anthony for theft of a government aircraft.