BELARUSSIAN businessman Aleksandr Zingman has threatened to take us to court for refusing to disclose our sources of his controversial photographs where he was pictured interacting with our Head of State, Lusaka Business Valden Findly, Defence PS Sturdy Mwale, ZAF commander Lt Gen David Muma, Zambia’s defence attaché in Russia Robert Kampeshi and Alexander Mikheev, the CEO of the Russian defence exporter Roseboronexport.
Mr Zingman ordered us to delete the images from our website and to apologize for publishing them, saying although he was posing with our top military brass, his dealings in Zambia are strictly in Agriculture, and nothing to do with Ministry of Defence procurements. We have refused to do so for obvious reasons.
Anyone who looks at his explanations to the questions we posed at him can tell from the onset that the Belarussian tycoon was being economical with the truth. It simply doesn’t make sense at all, that everything was a coincidence. But whether Mr Zingman was lying or not is not our problem.
In fact, we need to make it clear to Mr Zingman that this issue is not about him. It is about Zambia and Zambians – those who are leading it and their conduct. If Mr Zingman is a dishonest man, as he appears to be, that’s his problem and his lies will catch up with him.
Our issue is about Zambia’s dishonest leaders who sign contracts to borrow unsustainable amounts of money in the name of defence and security for our people when the truth is that they get kickbacks. We are concerned about those who pay US$135 million for a plane that is worth US$65 million. We have the right to ask who took the US$70 million difference? They pay US$135 million for a plane we don’t need, a plane we cannot afford. These are the people we are concerned about. Their actions are impoverishing our people and sending many to early graves. That is our concern.
We are are concerned about those who have opened our country to all types of middlemen to rip off our hard earned taxes. But if Mr Zingman wants to make this his own fight, he is welcome.
The corruption that is going on in the country cannot be allowed to continue without comment. It is simply too much. Even in stealing, there has to be limits. This is what we are concerned about.
Anyone wanting to sue us for complaining about what is happening to our country will find worthy opponents in us because we will fight with all that we have, however little and even if that is the last thing that we do. Zambia is a rich country which God has given many resources. What is lacking is a principled stewardship of these resources.
There are individuals in this government whose jobs seem to be finding ways of stealing from our people. When you look at them, it is as though when they arrive in the office, they are just thinking about how to steal. They are not there to serve us, but to steal. They sign all sorts of useless deals in the name of our people, for the sole purpose of stealing. Without shame, they are looking for commissions on every contract that they conclude on behalf of the government.
We now know that people are hiding behind the veil of defence secrecy to commit all kinds of criminal acts. When one looks at what is happening, it is clear that in some instances, government functions have been handed over to private individuals who are making all kinds of unnecessary transactions to syphon money from the treasury.
It is not very difficult to understand why defence has been picked as a vehicle for such dealings. Historically, defence procurements are carried out in secret, and there is supposed to be a very good reason for this. But this lack of public scrutiny is being abused by our dishonest leaders. It has created a perfect cover for corruption.
Who is going to question defence procurements? If you do, you run the risk of being accused of breaching some state security laws. Because of that, some unscrupulous people have taken advantage, and for them it is pate after pate.
This is why people can buy fertilizer and other agricultural products using the Ministry of Defence and no one is allowed to question that because it’s a defence procurement. Is that fair?
There are many other procurements which have nothing to do with defence that are being run by that ministry with the sole purpose of allowing certain individuals to steal. That is wrong.
This is why the debt situation in Zambia has gotten out of hand largely as a result of this recklessness and greed. Zambia has become a paradise for all kinds of middlemen who are looking for public officials that are ready to sell our birthrights.
These people will sign away our collective rights as long as they get something for themselves. There is too much filth in our government. And this kind of corruption is a danger to the very existence of Zambia as a country. No one who calls themselves a Zambian should accept this.
We have thieves whose criminal activities are well known, running very important ministries in our country. What can we expect from such individuals? They are not ashamed to open the doors of government to their friends who come to help them loot.
This is our problem. This is what we oppose. Unless we stand up and stop this corruption, it is going to consume all of us. We challenge anyone who is fair minded to demonstrate to us that the current debt crisis that we have as a country is not a direct result of corruption and abuse of office that has been going on in our country. Too many overpriced projects have been carried out for the sole purpose of giving government individuals commissions.
This is wrong and it has to be stopped. There should be consequences for the kind of daylight robbery that we are seeing. We are not in this business to fight anyone, but we will use our ears, eyes and pens to defend our country.
We don’t have a very good appetite for threats and intimidation. Sorry!