[By Ernest Chanda and Chambwa Moonga]
FRED M’membe says Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho is a criminal hiding a lawyer’s robe.
Featuring on a Diamond TV special programme yesterday over allegations of fraud and theft made against him by Mosho, Dr M’membe said there were so many anomalies with the whole liquidation of The Post.
“I’m sorry to say this, and if Mr Mosho feels offended, let him sue me; he is a criminal. He’s a criminal in a lawyer’s robe. Mr Mosho is not new to court cases. He’s very lucky actually to be practicing as a lawyer; he’s very, very lucky,” he said. “On The Post, he’ll not be able to account for the money or the properties he has sold. And as a shareholder and as a director, I’ll call him one day to account. The employees of the company who worked tirelessly to raise the company to where it was will call him to account one day. And other interested parties will call him to account; he has a duty to render an account. He will not be able to account for the money. And it will not be the first time Mr Mosho is failing to do that. Yes, they have stolen the assets of The Post.”
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.
Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party 2021 presidential candidate, said there were so many anomalies with the whole liquidation of The Post.
“It is actually a criminal enterprise; the whole liquidation of The Post is a criminal enterprise. As I’m talking to you today, the judge who was dealing with this, judge Sunday Nkonde, he’s sitting as a judge, he’s on the bench on a stay,” he explained. “There was a complaint raised against him with the Judicial Complaints Commission, before they could hear that he obtained a stay, a stay that was obtained in a manner that is also questionable. So, you have a judge who is sitting on the bench on a stay.”
Dr M’membe explained that The Post was liquidated on a provisional order.
“No other party was heard, it was granted ex parte by judge Nkonde. We have never been heard as shareholders of The Post; we have never been heard as directors of The Post. No employee of The Post or other interested parties in The Post has ever been heard. The company is being liquidated on a provisional liquidation order obtained ex-parte,” he said.
“We have never been heard; nobody has ever been heard in the liquidation of The Post. The whole thing has been done in such a corrupt manner and a manner that cannot be said to be anywhere near transparency. What is the basis of all this? The truth is they cannot do anything without lies. They cannot do anything without calumny, without propaganda, because the whole enterprise is anchored on lies; it is a dishonest enterprise. The liquidation of The Post was not done in the right way and it’s still not being done in the right way. And when you don’t do things in the right way, you have to cover up all the time. If you tell a lie, you have to create more lies to cover up that first lie; and the lies become endless. Their criminal activities around The Post will not end.”
Asked if the issue was about him, Dr M’membe said The Post was not about him.
“As I’ve said before, The Post is not about me. If it was about me, the matter would have ended a long time. With or without me, this matter will continue. I am the target, but mistakenly so. They think they can deal with me. They closed The Post to deal with me, but The Post was far much bigger than me,” he said.
Asked if elected president in August 2021 he would forgive those heaping injustice on him, Dr M’membe said there were wrongs that can be forgiven.
“And there are also wrongs that have to be punished. It’s not vengeance. Even in God’s own scheme of things, there’s hell. You have heard that people who commit certain types of crimes or sins, they go to hell, isn’t it? Can you accuse God of being vengeful by sending people to hell? In Biblical teaching there’s hell, isn’t it? People go to hell,” he said. “Are we going to say God is not forgiving by sending people to hell? What I’m trying to tell you is [that] there are crimes that have to be punished by society, just as much as there are sins that God punishes and sometimes eternally so, with no reprieve, no parole. When you go to hell there’s no parole. Nobody goes to hell and comes back. If you have committed a certain level of sins you may have to go to purgatory, as Catholics believe. And when you have paid your penance there in purgatory then you go to heaven. But once you go to hell, it’s eternal punishment. So, God is not vengeful by sending people to hell. Even in our society, there’ll be sins, there’ll be crimes that will be punished, and there’ll be crimes that will be forgiven. And to be forgiven you have to show contrition. How do you punish somebody who has shown enough contrition?”
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 said those framing him know very well that the case was 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, a journalist, economist and a lawyer, said 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.”