- By Kennedy Gondwe
- BBC News, Lusaka
Zambia’s Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo has resigned after he was filmed receiving a wad of cash from a Chinese businessman.
He did not deny his presence in the video.
Instead, Mr Kakubo said he was facing “malicious allegations regarding a business transaction” and had resigned so the government would not be “distracted” by the controversy.
The video shows two men sitting near a table counting neatly stacked cash, US dollars and Zambian kwachas.
Their faces are not visible, but it led to a frenzy of speculation on social media that they were Mr Kakubo and a Chinese businessman.
Some people wondered why no bank transfer was made and whether taxes were paid following the transaction.
Unverified images of signed handwritten notes also surfaced on social media. One said $100,000 had been “exchanged” between a Zambian and Chinese mining company. Another, dated July 8, 2022, mentions a total sum of $200,000.
In his resignation letter, Mr. Kakubo did not dispute the authenticity of the video or the handwritten notes.
Instead, he said he was the victim of “malicious claims regarding a business transaction between my private family business and our business partner with whom we still maintain a good relationship.”
He said he had resigned as minister to ensure the government was not “distracted” from its efforts to improve the lives of Zambians, but would remain as an MP.
“In due course, we will provide the precise context surrounding the recent developments,” the Lusaka Times news site quoted Kakubo as saying.
Mr Hichilema accepted his resignation, saying he recognized Mr Kakubo’s “commendable work and leadership”.
This is the second time that Mr. Kakubo has found himself at the center of a controversy.
Last year he was accused of taking a bribe after he was seen leaving the office of a Chinese cement factory with a briefcase.
He has denied any wrongdoing, while the president has defended him, saying he was given a timetable and agenda.
Chinese companies are big investors in Zambia.
The Chinese Embassy said in 2022, more than 600 Chinese companies have invested more than $3 billion in Zambia.
Mr Kakubo is the prime minister forced to resign since President Hakainde Hichilema took office in August 2021.
Mr Hichilema has pledged to fight corruption, but the opposition accuses him of unfairly targeting its members, which he denies.
In his response to Mr Kakubo’s resignation, former President Edgar Lungu said he should be investigated for alleged corruption.
“I am not saying that Kakubo is guilty. All I am saying is that if there are no sacred cows in Mr. Hichilema’s fight against corruption, Kakubo should be subject to investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted…” Mr. Lungu said.
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