FORMER deputy high commissioner to India Andrew Banda has appealed to all former ministers in the MMD government who were still alive to state their position on the privatisation issue so that it can be put to rest.
In concert, the PF, FDD’s Edith Nawakwi and Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo have placed UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on the spot over privatisation, accusing him of wrongdoing from the process.
Hichilema has always denied wrongdoing each time the privatisation question has been asked.
Banda, a senior member of the UPND, appealed to all former ministers of the MMD government who are still alive to state their position on the matter so that it could be put to rest.
Banda said it would not help for the likes of Vernon Mwaanga, Enoch Kavindele, Dr Guy Scott, Simon Zukas, Dipak Patel, Dr Roger Chongwe, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda and Dr Ludwig Sondashi, who were in the first MMD cabinet, to keep quiet over privatisation.
“It won’t help for these imminent people to keep quiet when the country is seriously being polarised with the motive by those in government today who are using desperate people like Edith to smear HH with dirty,” Banda said. “Further, look at the people that are spearheading this crusade, their current status, today, the region where they are coming from and the reason why they are doing all this. All this acrimony is not about wrongdoing in the privatisation programme of over 25 years ago, but fear of losing the 2021 elections to HH,” Banda said in a statement.
He said the PF government was using the privitisation propaganda to divert people’s attention from real issues affecting the country such as load-shedding, high cost of living, high unemployment levels, weak kwacha against the dollar; high fertiliser prices, low maize prices, high fuel prices, among others.
“The past two weeks has been politically busy with Edith Nawakwi’s revelation after more than 25 years that president Hakainde Hichilema was involved in wrongdoing in the privatisation of the mines and the purchase of a house on Serval Road, which she alleged belonged to Lima Bank and yet it belonged to Tobacco Board of Zambia and the sale of InterContinental, Livingstone,” Banda said.
He said the former finance minister did not have documentary proof to back her accusations against Hichilema.
Banda noted that Nawakwi, who is FDD president, did not explain why she did not stop the privatisation programme if there was any wrongdoing.
“Why was she raising the issue now, after over 25 years among others? Experts from the World Bank have stated that there was no wrongdoing. Privatisation was a Zambian government, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme which the UNIP government failed to implement. Had the privatisation Programme not gone ahead, Zambia’s assets such as mines and others would have been taken over by foreign companies,” Banda said.
He further recalled that George Sikazwe, a former specialist at World Bank, had stated that both his former employers and the government of Zambia had set up benchmarks for the consultant, Grand Thornton, to be paid and that yardsticks were met and therefore there was no wrongdoing.
“Sikazwe also wondered why Edith Nawakwi has taken more than 25 years to come up with the current position on the issue. Mr Francis Kaunda, former chairman of ZCCM also stated the same that there was no wrongdoing in the privatisation of the mines, among others. Katele Kalumba and many others have clearly stated that there was no wrongdoing,” he said. “Why is the PF doing this? The answer is simple: to divert attention from real issues such as load-shedding, high cost of living, high unemployment levels, weak kwacha against the dollar, high fertiliser prices, low maize prices, high fuel prices, among others. How come Mr Lungu who was involved in the privatisation programme as a lawyer is mute over this matter? We can only speculate he could be behind all this that is happening.”
Banda appealed to Hichilema to ensure that the courts conclusively dealt with the defamation case while party members dealt with the political side of the matter.
He said the PF also, in the interest of the country, should prepare to account for the wealth they have amassed in a short period of time of being in government.
“All in all, the issue of wrongdoing by HH in the privatisation programme has politically backfired like the issue of tribalism, Satanism, treason case, the burning of markets, destroying of Zesco pylons and the infamous gassing which they wanted to accuse HH of being involved. We are glad that president Hakainde Hichilema is not frightened to face the courts of law to clear himself. We hope after the 2021 elections others will not run away in fear of their wrongdoing,” Banda said.
He said as a matter of principle, not revenge on account of Hichilema’s privatisation issue, the PF leadership and their relatives, friends and others would have to account for the 40 per cent of the national budget (close to $8 billion) which has gone into their pockets.
“The national debt is over 20 billion dollars, the Euro bond of 2.2 billion dollars, 42 fire tenders bought at one million dollars each instead of $300,000 each, the infamous purchase of ambulances at $288,000 instead of 52,000 each and the 48 ghost houses among others,” said Banda.
“They will also account for the gassing that spread all over the country and the death of over 50 Zambians. The PF must know that we have people within their government who provide us with vital and accurate information. This is how far the UPND has reached so ba P F watch your steps; you will scamper like rats after 2021 elections.”
And Tembo noted how the country’s attention had been diverted from other pertinent issues to the issue of privatisation and the alleged misconduct of Hichilema in performing his various roles during the said privatisation process.
“It is for this reason that we call upon Hakainde Hichilema to help this country put to bed the privatisation issue by answering the few outstanding questions regarding this matter. Suffice to mention that as Patriots for Economic Progress, we greatly appreciate the time and effort that Mr Hichilema put into explaining some of the issues surrounding his role in the privatization process, during his address to the media last Friday, 4th September 2020,” he said. “Was he, or was he not appointed as the Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA) negotiating chairman for the sale of Mosi-o-tunya InterContinental Hotel in Livingstone? Did his appointment as ZPA negotiating chairman commence or not commence in July 1997? On 18th November 1997, while he was allegedly serving as the ZPA negotiating chairman in the sale of the hotel, did he or did he not, together with other directors, incorporate a company called Sun International (Zambia) Limited who’s PACRA registration number is 39430? On 3rd March 1998, in his capacity as ZPA negotiating chairman, did he or did he not award the sale of Mosi-o-tunya InterContinental Hotel in Livingstone to Sun International (Zambia) Limited, which company he had allegedly incorporated 3 months earlier, on 18th November 1997? Is it true that the Sun International (Zambia) Limited bid at $6.5 million was significantly lower than other comparable bids that allegedly included a $26 million bid, $20 million and $9 million? and; In selling the hotel to a company that he was allegedly a director in, did he or did he not declare interest as required by section 11 of the Zambia Privatisation Act, Cap 386 of the Laws of Zambia?”
Tembo said if Hichilema “feels harassed by the six specific questions that we have listed above, then we wish to tender our sincere-most apology in advance, to himself and his supporters, but the questions above must be answered”.
“However, our view is that as aspiring president of this Republic, it is actually in Mr Hakainde’s best interests that he answers the questions which the public is asking him, and not the questions that him and his public relations team design, rehearse and then present to the public in a choreographed presentation…” said Tembo.