Key witness in Zambian misappropriation trial shot dead

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- An executive member of Zambia's opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FFD), Paul Tembo, was Friday morning shot dead by unidentified gunmen, moments before he was to testify before a tribunal probing three government ministers docked for misappropriation.
Tembo's lawyer Sakwiba Sikota confirmed that he was shot dead at his Lusaka residence around 3am local time, after a gun battle with his assailants.
Tembo was Friday scheduled to appear before a tribunal investigating Finance minister Katele Kalubma, Home Affairs minister Peter Machungwa and Works and Supply minister Godden Mandandi for allegedly diverting two billion kwacha (1 US dollar = 3,600 kwacha) from the National Assembly to finance a convention of the ruling MMD, held from 27 April to 2 May.
Stressing there was need for a thorough investigation into the alleged misappropriation, Sikota intimated that fear of exposure might have led Tembo's killers to such a desperate act.
"I hope the tribunal can now see the high stage of people who are involved in the K2 billion scam following the killing of a key witness who was due to testify today," the lawyer said.
He said there was absolutely no doubt that, far from robbery, the killing of Tembo was a political assassination.
"Tembo had a wealth of information which was going to guarantee that a good number of powerful people in the MMD would be locked away in jail for corruption and theft," he insisted, adding that "Tembo definitely knew where money distributed at the MMD national convention in envelopes came from, and he was ready to testify before the tribunal today.
" The lawyer maintained that the evidence coming out of the tribunal had been linking very powerful people to the scam, and it was very clear that somebody did not want Tembo to testify as to what he knows.
Tembo, former MMD deputy national secretary, was instrumental in the campaign for a third term of office for President Frederick Chiluba but resigned from the party only last month after narrowly losing elections to the office of vice chairman, disputing the result.
He joined the FDD and was elected as member of the Mobilisation Committee that comprised mainly former ministers expelled from the MMD for campaigning against Chiluba's third term.
Paul Tembo is best remembered as a firebrand orator whose translations for the President always held crowds spellbound.
In 1996 he lost his parliamentary seat in the midlands town of Kabwe where an independent candidate, Captain Austin Chewe (retired) defeated him, for the Kabwe Central parliamentary seat.

06 juillet 2001 07:47:00

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