Zambia leader accuses opposition figure of illegal wealth
LUSAKA (AFP) – Zambian President Michael Sata on Monday called for an investigation into how the leader of the country’s second-largest opposition party amassed his wealth, accusing the multi-millionaire of stealing public funds.
Sata claims that the United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema has assets worth 360 million kwacha ($67 million), ranking him among some of the wealthiest politicians in the country.
“We have asked the director of public prosecution to see if we can prosecute him,” the president said at a swearing-in ceremony for several government officials in the capital.
“He stole this money,” said Sata, who has lately intensified his campaign against opponents, arresting them on various charges and raising fears the country is sliding toward authoritarianism.
Hichilema spearheaded the privatisation of some of Zambia’s state institutions under the late leader Fredrick Chiluba.
“Instead of giving the money to government, he pocketed it and he calls me a dictator,” said Sata.
Hichilema has already been arrested twice this year.
In January, he was charged with making defamatory remarks against Sata.
Last month, he was arrested for inciting violence in connection with the killing of a ruling party supporter during a violent by-election campaign in the southern tourist town of Livingstone.
Politicians and journalists critical of Sata have been targeted since he came to power in late 2011.