Zambia: former First Lady and her daughter arrested for fraud

Zambia: former First Lady and her daughter arrested for fraud

Former Zambia First Lady Esther Lungu was arrested on Thursday along with her daughter Chiyeso Lungu Katete and an alleged accomplice for property fraud. The charges relate to the illegal acquisition of property in Lusaka, estimated at $1.5 million.

According to Zambia's Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), former First Lady Esther Lungu, her daughter Chiyeso Lungu Katete and an alleged accomplice, Charles Phiri, were arrested for possession of property reasonably suspected to be drugs of crime.

The properties in question, acquired between January 2015 and December 2023, include 15 double-storey apartments in the State Lodge area of ​​Lusaka, valued at approximately US$1.53 million. The DEC indicated that Esther Lungu could not provide plausible explanations for the acquisition of these properties. Chiyeso Lungu Katete also faces fraud charges relating to the acquisition of another three-apartment property, as well as an expensive house, four chicken coops and related exterior works.

After their interrogation on Thursday, the three suspects were released on bail. Tasila, another daughter of Esther Lungu, is also implicated in related charges and has been summoned to appear before the DEC on Monday.

This arrest marks the second time in eight months that Esther Lungu has faced corruption charges. In September 2023, she was previously arrested on charges of motor vehicle and title theft, which she denied.

Former President Edgar Lungu reacted strongly to the arrests, calling them politically motivated. According to him, these accusations are aimed at preventing him from returning to the political scene before the 2026 elections. He has promised to vigorously contest these allegations and recently claimed to be under house arrest because of his political activities, a claim that the government denied.