Immigration Department Director General Moola Milomo says he cannot explain why government the Chief Executive Officer of Zambia’s second biggest emerald mining company, Gemcanton Investments Holdings because he is out of office.
Yesterday, combined team of police and immigration captured and deported Eli Neaffusy.
Government sources told News Diggers! that Neaffusy was picked following a trading dispute with Patriotic Front-aligned shareholders in the company.
But when asked why government had deported the investor, Milomo declined to explain saying he was out of office.
“I am not in the office, I am out of office now. But you can call our public relations officer because I am not in the office,” Milomo said.
When told that Immigration public relations manager Namati Nshinka had not been picking up calls, Milomo said “Oh, okay, I am sorry, I am out of office, I am attending a meeting in Livingstone.”
Asked if he was briefed about Neaffusy’s deportation yesterday, Milomo insisted that he could not comment on the matter.
“I am out of the office Madam, I wouldn’t comment, I am in Livingstone,” said Milomo.
Meanwhile, neither Nshinka nor Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo answered phone calls from this reporter by press time.
Neafussy’s lawyer Diskson Jere told News Diggers! in an interview yesterday that after making frantic efforts to find the whereabouts of his client, the former called him from an Ethiopian Airline which was about to take off in Ndola saying a deportation order had been issued.
“I have just managed to make contact with him. He was calling from an Ethiopian Airline which was about to take off from Ndola. According to him, the people who abducted him were a joint team of police and immigration,” explained Jere.
“He was told that his business partner and shareholder reported him as a danger to the country and that his three-year work permit should be cancelled.”
Jere said the deported Israeli investor had been working in harmony with the Zambian government in accordance with the foreign investment guidelines, hence he could not understand the hostility from the State towards Neaffusy.
And sources within government said that there had been a bitter quarrel between Neaffusy and his Zambian partner of Senegalese origin Abdoulaye Ndiaye, popularly known as Gounasse.
“This guy they have picked has been trying to put proper company structures in place and a legal system of trading. They have invested so much money and brought serious machinery which is running 24 hours at the mine. Gemcanton is now competing 50-50 with Kagem. They auction the gemstones in India and other places around the world, which has never happened before,” the sources said.
They said the Israelis acquired 50 per cent stake in the company, but had faced victimization from state agencies since.
“When they came in these Israelis bought about 50 per cent stake in Gemcanton, but along the way a dispute ensued between Gounasse and Neaffusy. Now the problem is that Gounasse boasts of having financed the PF campaigns. He claims that several ministers are on his payroll, including State House official,” reported the sources.
“So now, Gounasse prefers to sale the gemstone on the black market, while these Israelis want to trade the stones through government established auction market, because their parent company in Israel does not support black market trading. In fact, there is one auction coming up just next month. So this deportation is to prevent the stones from being auctioned at Pamodzi Hotel, which means they won’t pay tax to ZRA on the sale.”
The sources said the PF had a hand in the deportation of Neaffusy because he was making it hard for the ruling party-aligned shareholder in the company to generate campaign finances ahead of the 2021 general elections.
According to Bloomberg News, the Zambia Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA) shows Gemcanton as jointly owned by two companies: British Virgin Islands-based Frango Finance Ltd. and Wolle Mining Limited.
It was formally known as Grizzly mining company and had been digging emeralds in Zambia since 1997.