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A Lungu family crackdown

Corruption investigation into the former president, who presided over the economic collapse of the country, continues with the arrest of his wife and daughter

The arrest of former First Lady Esther Lungu and her daughter Chiyeso Katete over possession of properties allegedly linked to corruption is the latest front in the battle against the former president and his family.

Days earlier, former President Edgar Lungu told the BBC that he is 'virtually under house arrest' because of the attentions, overzealous he says, of his security detail. He insists that this, and the arrest of his wife and daughter, is politically motivated.

Ms Lungu had 'failed to give a reasonable explanation' of how she acquired a $1.5m estate in the capital, the state anti-drug agency said. Allegations of corruption and state capture surrounded the Lungu family and their allies in the Patriotic Front (PF) throughout his presidency.

Last June, 20 properties belonging to the Lungu family, including two 15-storey blocks of flats, were seized by the government, which asserted that they were linked to crime.

Lungu, who presided over an economic collapse that pushed Zambia into default followed by debt restructuring, has sought to return to political life in recent months, though he does not hold a formal post in the PF. He has called for an early election and accused his successor Hakainde Hichilema of economic mismanagement.

Hichilema has stated that money and assets looted during the Lungu presidency will be returned, with a number of former ministers and officials said to be in the crosshairs of state investigators (AC Vol 62 No 17, Reconciliation and a reckoning).

However, the slow pace of corruption investigations has prompted public disquiet about the government's commitment (AC Vol 65 No 1, Public's patience is running short).

The government stripped the former president of his pension rights last November after Lungu indicated that he plans to stand for the presidency in 2026.

At a church service in May, Lungu hinted at attempts to oust the Hichilema government before the 2026 polls, remarking that 'a baby can be born before nine months', comments described as 'hair raising' by Information Minister Cornelius Mweetwa.

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