Commonwealth petition: Sata counters

Zambia's President Michael Sata speaks at a Gala Dinner in Bloemfontein on January 7, 2012

PRESIDENT Sata has welcomed the opposition’s decision to report Zambia to the Commonwealth for alleged human rights abuses and he is eagerly waiting to give the government’s side of the story.
President Sata says he will counter the opposition’s petition to the Commonwealth by asking the Club to probe UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s source of wealth.

“I’m glad HH invited the Commonwealth because we want to give them a document of his wealth so that they can tell us how he acquired it,” President Sata said.
Mr Sata was speaking at State House yesterday when he swore in Kanchibiya Patriotic Front (PF) member of Parliament (MP) Davies Mwango as deputy minister in the office of the Vice President and Mfuwe PF MP Mwimba Malama as deputy minister of Communications, Transport, Works and Supply.
Others were Eva Fundafunda as Ambassador to China and Miles Banda as High Commissioner to Malaysia.
President Sata’s comments arise from the opposition leader’s decision to call a press conference, along with MMD president Nevers Mumba and ULP president Sakwiba Sikota in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week, at which they accused the PF government of violating human rights.
According to the documentation on Mr Hichilema’s wealth, which was circulated to the press, the opposition leader has various business ventures, companies and properties, both locally and abroad worth billions.
The document states that cattle ranches have helped Mr Hichilema to emerge as one of the leading suppliers of beef to Zambeef Plc.
It says Mr Hichilema has ranches holding over 90,000 cattle in Central and Southern provinces valued at over KR360 million (K360 billion).
It also says the UPND leader has four ranches in Choma operating as HH Farm and Blukes Farm which have 20,000 animals and another three ranches in Kalola, Chibombo, property numbers F/1604/A, F/2270/A and F/9184 with a total 35,000 animals among others.
And that Mr Hichilema has shares in various private companies including Zambezi Sun International Hotels in Livingstone, Pick n Pay, Game Stores, ALS Capital, a bureau de change based in Lusaka, Manda Hill Centre, More Beef Limited and Anglo-American Corporation.
The document also says he has three houses in South Africa, two in England, three in Lusaka and an office block in Choma.
The UPND leader, according to the document, has four accounts with ZANACO with balances of US$820,411.58, KR45,000 (K45 million), KR9,000 (K9 million) and KR135,000 (K135 million).
Meanwhile, President Sata has cautioned ministers against being selective when implementing Government projects.
He said ministers and other Government officials should embrace all Zambians in their course of duty, regardless of their political affiliation.
President Sata said Government officials should work hard to ensure people feel and see the impact of development the country is recording.
“Ministers get back to the countryside, take development there and do not be selective. Let people feel the impact of the growth of the economy. Currently, some people cannot afford three meals a day and cannot take their children to school,” he said.
Mr Sata said ministers should protect voters who have put them where they are today.
“Nowadays, we have children who cannot find a classroom and yet you claim to be leaders. You are happy and you are even wearing ties and nice shoes,” Mr Sata said.
And Mr Sata has advised Zambian diplomats to sell Zambia’s investment opportunities effectively.
He is disappointed that some diplomats are not attracting foreign investment into the country.
“We are seeing conmen bringing investors into the country and yet the country has a number of diplomats. And all those so-called investors are only interested in investing in one thing, which is copper,” he said.
President Sata said it is unacceptable for the country to continue to record high unemployment levels when it has abundant natural resources.
“I don’t see why Zambia should be suffering from unemployment when we are the only country remaining with natural resources. At one time, we had enough jobs such that we were recruiting labourers from East Africa,” he said.
The Commonwealth is a “voluntary” association of 54 countries that support each other and work together towards shared goals in democracy and development.
It is also home to two billion citizens of all faiths and ethnicities. Member countries come from six regions: Africa (19); Asia (8); the Americas (3); the Caribbean (10); Europe (3); and the South Pacific (11).
Most recent members are: Rwanda – admitted at the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The Club dates back to the 1870s. It was reconstituted in 1949 when Commonwealth prime ministers met and adopted the ‘London Declaration’ where it was agreed all member countries would be “freely and equally associated.”
Meanwhile, CLAVER MUTINTA reports that Vice-President Guy Scott says the PF government has found prima facie evidence against several leaders who served in the government of former President Rupiah Banda and the current MMD leadership.
In a statement issued by Patson Chilemba, first secretary for press at Zambian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday, Dr Scott said there was no witch-hunt in the anti-corruption crusade.
Dr Scott was speaking in separate interviews with the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation TV and on a live-radio programme on Channel Africa yesterday.
He said the discovery of KR2.1 million (K2.1 billion) at former Labour Minister Austin Liato’s house and over 2000 bicycles at a former ministers’ backyard was just a tip of the iceberg of the rampant corruption that took place.
“We are being very tough on corruption and that’s why they are not happy. They are squirming under the pressure,” he said.