In this audio, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says he is happy with the Paradise Papers because they show that Zambians can be entrepreneurial by investing abroad and bringing the money back home.
And HH says he has only contested two proper elections since he took over the UPND.
HH has been named in the latest exposé dubbed “The Paradise Papers”, but with a huge disclaimer about some of the people named in the offshore leaks.
HH became a director of a Bermuda company, AfNat Resources Ltd., in March 2006, and he resigned that August, according to Appleby’s records.
AfNat Resources was incorporated in 2005 and explored for nickel and other metals in Zambia and other African countries. It was listed on London’s alternative investment market until 2010 when it was purchased by Canadian mining company Axmin for about $14 million.
HH declined to answer questions from ICIJ, including about his roles as director. There is nothing illegal about a company registered in Bermuda, HH told ICIJ by phone.
When Let the People Talk host brought up the Paradise Papers today, HH insisted that there was nothing illegal about his dealings with AfNat Resources Ltd.
He said he was actually pleased with the Paradise Papers because they showed how Zambians can be entrepreneurial by investing in countries were doing business was cheaper.
“I was reading through that document myself, it is basically very clear saying there is nothing illegal about that and it links so many people like the queen of England, the Canadian Prime Minister and several other people including the current Secretary of State of the United States of America. People decide to invest here and there legally not illegally, there is no tax dodging,” HH said.
“You can read the document again. I am actually very pleased with that document because it outlines clearly that there is no illegality [but] they are just revealing information which may be held and that information is not a secret.”
He said there was nothing secret about his offshore investments.
“AfNat is a Canadian company that bought the company from the London stock exchange. The London stock exchange has various windows, one of them is what you may call the main window another one is where small businesses go to list their interests called alternative investment market, it is part of the London Stock Exchange. How can the London stock exchange be a secret? It cannot be a secret, you just open any website and you will find it. The fact that is has been printed now and it is called Paradise Papers by ICIJ doesn’t mean it is new information, it is on the London Stock Exchange through a window called alternative investment market. So this why I am saying that there is no issue, this is a non issue at all,” he said.
HH said he was only director for the company in question for four months without explaining his role in it.
“No illegality at all, no tax evasion and if you check, I was a director only for four months, there is no illegality there and this is what we do, we try and raise money outside of the country,
“ HH said.
He said when he formed government, he would encourage people to make money in countries where doing business was easier and bring it back home to invest.
“This is what I want to do when we form government, raise money out in the London stock exchange where the cost of money is lower. The cost of money is cheaper on that market and bring it to Zambia and invest in a ranch so that we can produce beef and help to improve the nutrition value of citizens and also help create jobs so that we can invest some of that money through our credibility internationally be able to help citizens get a job from an investment made here but money sourced outside which is cheaper. That is what you do when you start running the country, raise cheaper money, bring it and invest in Zambia and create jobs so that people can be employed. This is what we do out there instead of raising money from fire tenders and then go and invest in a casino, you are encouraging people to gamble and drink more beer instead of producing, they are just consuming. That is the difference between HH and those in office today,” HH said.
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And HH said he has only run for two proper elections from the time he took over the UPND presidency.
“You did comment about us running in 2006, I hope you understand that I ran only 45 days after taking office after the death of [Anderson] Mazoka then in 2008 I am trying to organise myself the late [Patrick] Mwanawasa died and we had a by-election, that’s two years, in two years we had literally two elections. Then 2010 we tried and settled down but unfortunately this country has just been unfortunate, Mr [Michael] Sata died in 2014 and in 2015 we had a by-election. So it’s been two elections that we have contested properly which you know is fraud,” he said.
Meanwhile, HH said Mutati was lying to Zambians and the IMF about the country’s real debt.
“Zambia cannot borrow anymore at commercial rate because the PF went and borrowed Kaloba (euro bond) and basically left what we call in the financial world ‘no head room’. There is no more space for Zambia to borrow given the size of the economy, given the size of the budget it is impossible for Zambia to borrow. That is why the IMF has said [Felix] Mutati you can say good words to us but we are not giving you money because you borrowed too much money which you are not disclosing to the people of Zambia,” said HH.