The Anti-Corruption Bureau(ACB) has launched an investigation into a K2.4 million illegal land sale of three Karonga councillors.
Two weeks ago, the three Steve Simsokwe, (who was elected council chairperson), Smart Mwakayira and Ngasalayumo Mwangonde pleaded guilty to findings of a Karonga District Council instituted commission of inquiry on how some vendors at Karonga Central Market acquired their land.
In an interview on Sunday, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba confirmed that the matter was reported to the bureau by Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Principal Secretary Charles Kalemba.
“Yes, I am aware of this matter. We have taken it up for an investigation,” he said.
In a separate interview, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the ministry guided the council to institute the inquiry.
“It is after ACB’s guidance that the ministry can guide Karonga district commissioner on what to do next. As it is, the ministry cannot take any action,” she said.
The inquiry alleged that Mwangonde was the custodian of the money collected illegally since December 2019 while Mwakayira allegedly used his political affiliation as councillor for the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party to intimidate vendors and other government employees linked to market business.
Mwakayira and Simsokwe also illegally acquired two plots each without following laiddown procedures, according to the report.
Meanwhile, some civil society groups in the district, namely Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace [Karonga Diocese], National Initiative for Civic Education Trust and Foundation for Community Support Services have asked the district council to relieve Simsokwe of his chair position.
In a full council meeting on July 11 2020, the three apologised for illegally selling the land and said they will give back the money within three months.