THEY are the thieves, not me, says Dr Fred M’membe, in light of allegations of fraud and theft made against him by Lewis Mosho.
Mosho is the provisional liquidator of Post Newspapers Limited, where Dr M’membe was the editor-in-chief and managing director.
The company was closed by the PF government, using the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) on June 21, 2016, on disputed tax arrears.
It was later put into provisional liquidation on November 2, 2016 by Lusaka High Court judge Sunday Nkonde.
On Tuesday evening, ZNBC reported that police in Chinsali had charged Dr M’membe with two counts of theft of proceeds of sale of Post Newspapers Limited property located in Lusaka, sold by the company prior to it going into liquidation.
Dr M’membe, who is now Socialist Party 2021 presidential candidate, said those framing him know very well that the case is going nowhere.
“But that does not bother them because their intention is not [to] punish wrongdoing but to politically, morally and otherwise humiliate me,” Dr M’membe said, in a statement.
“Will they succeed? No. The Zambian people know very well what is going on and cannot be swayed by such malice, lies and calumny. They are the thieves, not me.”
He challenged Mosho to render an audited account of the assets of Post Newspapers Limited, which he has collected and sold.
He stated that it was very sad that “wild and malicious allegations” have once again been made against him.
“I was last week summoned by the police in Chinsali, Muchinga, made to believe that my house which was taken, with no evidence of wrong-doing by myself, in my village in Chinsali over a year ago, was going to be returned,” Dr M’membe explained. “Those that have brought these charges against me know very well that I was never involved in the sale of Post Newspapers Limited property and never used proceeds from the same for my personal benefit.”
Dr M’membe, an economist and a lawyer, recalled that Post Newspapers Limited conducted its transactions through banks and that for such a reason, “records relating to this sale and use of the proceeds are easily available.”
“These allegations are being brought by people who are stuck in their criminal activities and have thus opted to concoct lies. They have found nothing against me since the liquidation of Post Newspapers Limited and the illegal occupation of my house in Chinsali over a year ago,” he stated.
“It is well known that they will not be able to prove these lies.”
He asserted that nothing would deter him and other progressives from fighting the injustice and inequity that was growing in Zambia.
“We will continue to mobilise Zambians to fight corruption, greed and injustice,” Dr M’membe said, stressing that what was being done to him is being done as the masses in Zambia are looking for alternative leadership and the Socialist Party is growing very fast.
“With our rising political fortunes, my being smeared with the filth of fraud and theft doesn’t come as a surprise. It was expected. Post Newspapers Limited wasn’t a kantemba (makeshift stall), a briefcase company. It was a big company with a professional accounting staff.”
Dr M’membe stated that at Post Newspapers Limited, it was not possible for any individual to take an amount of money, let alone sale company property, without being noticed or traced.
He added that although he owned almost all the shares in the company, he never treated the assets and liabilities of the company as his.
Dr M’membe said the finances and assets of Post Newspapers Limited were handled and managed by its accounting staff.
“I did not handle the sale of the said property. It was handled by the accounting staff and other responsible managers – and all are still alive,” Dr M’membe said. “The payment was made through the bank and so were the disbursements – which I am told were mainly to the Zambia Revenue Authority. All these transactions can be traced from the bank records.”
Meanwhile, Dr M’membe noted that if the police were professional in their dealing with Mosho’s complaint, “they would have gone to the bank to check how the money moved from the buyer to Post Newspapers Limited’s bank accounts.”
“It could also reveal how it was disbursed from that account. But because of clear political pressure that has surrounded the whole liquidation of Post Newspapers Limited, police professionalism, objectivity and fairness have been lost,” stated Dr M’membe.
Dr M’membe has been charged with, “fraudulently appropriating property by directors contrary to Section 324 subsection A of Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
“It is alleged that you, Fred M’membe in your capacity as managing director of The Post in Liquidation on the dates unknown but between the month of September 2014 and August 2015 in Lusaka in the Lusaka district of the Lusaka Province of the Republic of Zambia with intent to defraud did omit to make full and true entry of the full amount realized from the sell of Stand No. 3815 located in Olympia along Great East Road in the books of account neither did you cause any person to enter fully on your behalf,” reads the charge. The second charge stated that, “Theft by directors contrary to Section 279 as read together with Section 272 Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia. It is further alleged that you Fred M’membe on the dates unknown but between the months of September 2014 and August 2015 in Lusaka in the Lusaka district of the Lusaka Province of the Republic of Zambia in your capacity as managing director of The Post newspaper in Liquidation did steal US $830,042 which was the property of The Post Newspaper in Liquidation realized from the sale of stand 3815.”
At this point Dr M’membe was asked if he understood the charges to which he responded in the affirmative.
Dr M’membe said it was very sad that Mosho could be so mischievous and make wild allegations against “me on matters he knows very well to be untrue”.
“I have never sold and appropriated any proceeds from any property of The Post,” stressed Dr M’membe. “Even where there has been a sale of any Post property, I [have] never been personally involved and no one involved has ever taken money for personal benefit.”