A fight has erupted again between members of the Karonga Business Community and councillors, including Karonga District Council’s chairperson over fraud and corruption claims.
The business community has since called on Minister of Local Government Lingson Belekanyama to intervene, saying the district council has failed to resolve the matter.
The business community claims that they have evidence that district council chairperson Steven Simusokwe dubiously sold 12 plots belonging to vendors to non-vendors at over K4 million.
The vendors have also complained that Simusokwe claims to have direct links to top government officials and threatens the district council officials that he will ask his government connections to transfer them from the council office if they intervene in the land wrangles.
In a statement signed by the community’s chairperson Wavisanga Silungwe, the business community is also demanding that the old DC [district commissioner] burnt offices and all plots sold by councillors and council officials be taken back and given to bonafide vendors through a committee.
Reads the statement in part: “We request that vendors that were shifted to old DC offices without water and toilets be relocated back to the main market quickly before an outbreak of cholera erupts.”
Silungwe, in an interview yesterday, said the council shifted vendors trading outside Karonga Market to old DC offices which have no proper sanitation and other amenities.
He said while the vendors were at their new premises, it was reported that the shift was temporal because the land was sold to a certain businessperson.
“We ask for an independent investigation by the ministry into serious allegations that some councillors have pocketed K4 million from the sale of market plots during Operation Dongosolo and that the old DC burnt offices plot where vendors are temporarily accommodated was sold to a businessman,” reads the statement.
In an interview yesterday, Simusokwe denied allegations of threatening council officials with connections to top government officials, saying Silungwe is a frustrated man.
“Silungwe writes those letters as an individual and not chairperson of the business community. He is frustrated because he did not win as a councillor,” he said.
Simusokwe further said Silungwe and his team have no evidence that he sold land but that they want to tarnish his image.