Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says Democratic Party leader Harry Kalaba lied when he said late president Levy Mwanawasa also ignored the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA)’s advice at one time during his tenure.

Reacting to Kalaba’s recent argument that the government could choose to either take or ignore ZEMA’s advice and having cited president Mwanawasa’s regime as one that ignored the Agency’s advice when establishing the Royal Livingstone Hotels in Livingstone, Sinkamba said that the late president never did such a thing.

He added that it was wrong for Kalaba to use a dead person’s name to justify a wrong, which he and government then had done.

“I think we need to correct the record. First of all, it is wrong for honourable Harry Kalaba to state that the late president Mwanawasa ever ignored the advice of ZEMA, at that time Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) on the Royal Zambezi construction. You will recall that the Royal Zambezi was opened in 2001 before president Mwanawasa won the elections in the October/November of that year. So, the construction of the Royal Zambezi was in the late 90s and all the approvals to do with ZEMA was done that time, and at the time the late president Mwanawasa had even left government as vice-president. He was vice-president from 1991 and he quit somewhere around 1994. So, he was not even part of government in any way, he was practicing as a lawyer when the issues to do with the construction of that hotel were taking place. I don’t think it is right for someone, who was a Cabinet Minister and someone who is aspiring for the office of the President to tell a lie and especially accusing someone who is not able to defend himself, it is not right,” Sinkamba said.

“The only issue which was involving the late president Mwanawasa concerned the construction of a hotel in Livingstone by Legacy Holdings. Legacy Holdings wanted to construct a hotel and a golf course, which could have actually affected part of the Livingstone game park, including the route, which the elephants use when migrating from Zambia to Botswana, to Zimbabwe, so that route was going to be affected and that was in 2006 and at that time, the Environmental Council of Zambia, now ZEMA, rejected that EIA for Legacy Holdings to build a hotel in the game park. After the rejection of that EIA by ZEMA, that was the end of the story. President Mwanawasa never interfered with the decision of ZEMA and that is how that project died a natural death. So, it is wrong, I think, to accuse someone who is late that he did things, which he never did.”

Sinkamba said he understood well the Legacy Holding application to construct a hotel near a national park because he was involved in the petition against the move.

“To use a dead person’s name to justify a wrong, which was done by honourable Kalaba and his team when they overruled them, I think that is not correct. So, really, I thought it was important that I clarify this because I participated in the Legacy Holdings issue, I was one of the environmentalists that made submissions to ZEMA to reject the construction of that hotel. I know that story very well because I was very much involved and I had to fly in from South Africa to come and be part and parcel of the ZEMA hearing in Livingstone. Also, we submitted written submissions to ZEMA to reject that project, so I know it very well. Then, I also participated in the approval for the hotel…at the time of the construction of the Royal Zambezi, at that time that was happening, that’s when the EIA regulations were just coming into force. The EIA regulations came into force in 1997, that’s when the regulations were approved and implementation was in 1998, by which time the Zambezi Sun Hotel was already in process of construction,” narrated Sinkamba.

“I think we, as politicians, we should refrain from tarnishing the names and images of our colleagues, especially those that are not there to defend themselves, those who are deceased. If you are going to make any reference to any one of our leaders who is deceased, it must be based on facts because, really, it’s absolutely wrong to accuse someone who is late based on total lies!”