UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday took on Edith Nawakwi on radio and confronted her for lying after the FDD leader called him a thief.
Featuring on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Nawakwi said Hichilema was a rich man who lacks wisdom and is self-conceited, with no respect for anyone.
But Hichilema took exception to being labelled a thief and challenged Nawakwi to provide evidence of her allegations so that he could respond and clear the air.
Hichilema also confronted Nawakwi on her claim that the UPND president bought his house in Sable Road from Lima Bank, saying the FDD leader was using the radio station to spread lies out of hatred.
After the radio programme, the duo later took the feud to social media, with Hichilema posting: “Maybe she has a crush on me”, “When they fail to defeat you on substance, they’ll resort to lies” and “Do you know what goes well with beans? Legana sausages”.
Nawakwi, on the other hand posted: “Reporter: Madam President, your comment over the recent post from the young man?
EZN: Well… you see, I’m a mother. I don’t play games with little boys, I #fix them..”, in apparent response to Hichilema.
Earlier during the programme, Nawakwi explained that Hichilema swindled the country by under-declaring assets which her ministry was selling, like Intercontinental Hotel in Livingstone, without declaring interest.
“Time and again people ask Hakainde Hichilema how he became rich? And that is the question. And he gets so upset about that question. What I noticed from his speech is that he says ‘at the time of privatisation, MMD was the one in government, I was young’ he says. And how could I at my age of 29 sell mines?’ I want to tell the nation that if he was 29, I was 30 and I was Minister of Finance. He says he was young, and this is why government has created Katombora reformatory for young criminals. It is not because you are young that you cannot be a criminal but Katombora reformatory is there for people who are young. So, the story of him being young is not there. The behavior of Hakainde Hichilema is equivalent to Nabal in the Bible. Nabal in the Bible is a very rich man but he lacks wisdom, he is self-conceited, and he doesn’t respect anyone. He doesn’t create any relationships,” Nawakwi said.
She said Hichilema is lucky the ACC hasn’t brought him to book for corruption over the house he illegally occupied which she claimed belonged to Lima Bank.
“If he has been lucky not to be booked by the Anti-Corruption Commission, he should just keep quiet because he should say he is lucky. As former minister of agriculture, you should ask him for my role. We wanted to restructure Lima Bank and we gave Grant Thornton the opportunity to advise government on receivership. And they went ahead and did a liquidation of Lima Bank. I just want Hakainde to answer one question. Is he able to produce the bid and the price which gave him the house in Sable Road where he has been residing until we moved to Mukamuya in Lusaka East? This is a Lima Bank house. Under our current laws and even previous laws, that is theft and corruption. You cannot give a public officer, and you are not just a public officers just because you are in government. He was advisor to government. So, to the extent that Grant Thornton was a receiver for Lima Bank and Hakainde alienates a house to himself, that is theft. He is lucky if he hasn’t gone to Katombora. He is lucky if the law hasn’t visited him,” she said.
She said if Hichilema said she was sleeping when she was finance minister, it is because he is also a thief who goes to steal while the owners of the house are sleeping.
“Hakainde Hichilema, under my watch as minister of finance, we were selling Intercontinental Hotel in Livingstone and the foreigners were there. He brought them as advisor. And when they had stood up, I say ‘Mr Hichilema, do you think this US $6 million is a fair price for the government?’ he was a professional and young and it’s not wrong for the government to trust a young man. You will think that this is a Zambian that has the interest of the country at heart. His answer was ‘yes madam minister, the price of $6 million for Intercontinental Hotel in Livingstone is a fair price’. He says I was sleeping, thieves come when you are sleeping. That is why they break in [because] they come with guns. However, the very next day when we had finished the transaction on Intercontinental Hotel and it had moved to be Southern Sun, Mr Hichilema became the chairperson of the new owners. Isn’t that conflict of interest? That is why I am saying that he is lucky if he hasn’t been probed. Prior to privatisation, how much money did Mr Hakainde Hichilema have? He should say that,” Nawakwi charged.
Nawakwi said Hichilema must learn to build relationships in politics.
“Hakainde must learn that building bridges and relationships is important in politics. Each time that they, on their side, open their statements to talk about me, it’s either ‘no, Nawakwi is going to be minister of finance for Lungu, Nawakwi has defected’. I have even been appointed by websites like Koswe but this is in the attempt to try and bring others down and this should stop. You can’t say that I have stolen because the owners were sleeping and you go boasting around. I think that is unacceptable. Can he actually tell us the bid price for the house in Sable road? How much he paid and why they, as Grant Thornton who were the receivers ended up sharing the houses amongst themselves?” she asked.
At this point, the interviewer played an old clip where Hichilema challenged Nawakwi and Alexander Chikwanda to explain where they were when he, a 29-year-old man was allegedly selling the mines.
The interview then asked Nawakwi to explain why the UPND leader was not prosecuted, to which Nawakwi said the UPND leader was lucky to have evaded prison.
“So, when you say that why he wasn’t visited, [it’s] because in this country, the only corrupt [people] are those in government. [But] those who are outside looting and using government means are never followed. I think you saw that when we left as MMD, a lot of my colleagues were in jail and even now, the people who are being followed are those in government. Those who were advising government have never been questioned or followed. And it’s a very unfair situation,” said Nawakwi.
The FDD leader went on to make several other accusations against Hichilema, saying his way of raising money is by grabbing communal land and giving it to his animals for grazing.
But speaking when he called in during the programme, Hichilema expressed shock at Nawakwi’s “lies”.
“I want to make a public response since your guest there made a public accusation that I benefited from a house that belonged to Lima Bank. Let me put it on record once and maybe for all. I have never bought a house openly or dubiously though Grant Thornton from Lima Bank, never ever. Land records are very clear. The beautiful thing about land is that you can’t lie. So I am afraid, Madam Nawakwi, you are telling a lie on that public radio. Here is the truth. I bought that house in the 90s through a public tender. The house never belonged to Lima Bank, never! She lied and I am sure she must be embarrassed about it. The house was advertised through the newspaper together with many other properties through a Real Estate Agent called TP Chibwe and Associates of Ndola, the advert was run in the public media. I responded, I bid and I was the highest bidder at that point, I think it was K61 million in the early 90s. I was awarded the tender and I engaged a lawyer that time Michael Musonda State Counsel, who is now Deputy Supreme Court Chief Justice, he is alive. The house went through the normal transaction of sale and conveyancing and I became the owner of the house. Nothing to do with Lima bank, later on we realised the house belonged to National Tobacco Company, I had no dealings with National Tobacco Company at all. Initially the house was owned by TBZ, Tobacco Board of Zambia, I never dealt with TBZ because the house was sold through a real estate agency. Why the house was sold, I understand the company owned money, the bank repossessed and gave to a real estate agency TP Chibwe and Associates of Ndola whom I met for the first time and I bought the house on open tender. No amount of fabrication, no amount of hate speech will change the facts. The good thing about fact is that they stare you in the face, and when you try and lie, the fact will remind you that madam Nawakwi, you are lying,” said Hichilema.
“I have never sold a mine that belonged to government. The privatisation was an MMD programme, they even enacted a law called the Zambia Privatisation Act of 1992 in which Cabinet, madam Nawakwi was a member. They called a lot of people to do some work, including Mr Edgar Lungu, he was part of the process, invited by the MMD government to which madam Nawakwi was a member. I was in the private sector, i have always been in the private sector. I listened to her abuse that I didn’t have anything [before privatisation], that doesn’t bother me (…chuckles), the records are there. She talked about RAMCOZ (Roan Antelope Mining Corporation of Zambia), I never sold RAMCOZ. RAMCOZ was sold as a mine owned by the government through a process that I never even participated in… I heard one or two callers praising her (Nawakwi). She told a lie! We shouldn’t glorify lying and making lying a new normal. I disagree that in this country we should make lying and corruption the new normal. That’s why we have damaged the economy. It’s not correct to mislead Zambians. I never privatised RAMCOZ, it was privatised much earlier, I was not involved. The facts are there, ZPA records are there.
Hichilema challenged Nawakwi to help the PF by sending police to arrest him so that he can be prosecuted for privatising the mines.
“I have challenged madam Nawakwi, since she was minister [of Finance]… I have listened to her, the venom was so strong, I invite her to go and get a police call out on behalf of herself, the MMD government and the PF, because clearly she is aligned to the PF government, she loves them; I don’t support PF, they have damaged this country’s economy, they have sold this country, corruption is there, evident: fire tenders, jets, ambulances, fuel, fertilizer; that’s why the economy has collapsed. So, since she loves PF, can she draw a call out, engineer the police, through Kampyongo to give me a call out, to summon me to start the process, to arrest me or indeed take me to court that HH sold the mines, I will be very very interested to follow this process, maybe it will settle this matter once and for all.”
“What I did [in the privatisation process] I was invited to to value, to provide market value for certain businesses, not the mines. And when we did that, lawyers were asked to draw sale and purchase agreements. Ours was to do evaluation, ours was to state the financial position of the company in terms of income statement, in terms of the balance sheet position, what are the assets, what are the liabilities. All of that we did, gave it to the owners and the owners then was the people of Zambia through the government of the MMD, through the Minister of Finance. That was our job and we were thousands of us doing that. But today, the venom goes to Hakainde, I never anything about Mr Lungu who did his legal work or other work in the privatisation process. So the venom goes to Hakainde because Hakainde is seeking the presidency of Zambia. Hakainde should not be allowed to rule this country and serve Zambians.”
When the interviewer asked Hichilema to explain why he advised Nawakwi to sale Intercontinental Hotel at K6 million, and later became part of it, the UPND leader laughed.
“Listen Zax, there is no issue about that, absolutely not! You do work for a client, the client can’t come after slumbering for 20 years and say HH you did this. The court is there to prosecute HH, why can’t they start the process now? This is why I say nga mwaleshipula, nga mwalilala, ngati munali kugona….”
The interviewer then interjected to ask if Hichilema took advantage of the fact that Nawakwi was sleeping during privatisation, causing th eUPND leader to laugh.
“No, that is my way of expressing persistent and consistent allegations which are untrue. Like I have told you on the lies about the house. I have explained how I bought that house and the process that was followed. But these people will not get that answer, they don’t want facts, so I will use expressions that nga mwaleshupula (if you were sleeping), because that’s the language that they understand. If today Zax, I ask you to give me the financial position of my company A, and later on I decide to sell that company and fail to negotiate a good price, then 20 years later I turn around and say, Zax the account you gave me, I came and sold the company but I didn’t make enough money so you have committed a crime, Zax you should laugh at me, really laugh at me,” Hichilema said.
What it is is an assault of an individual, a better individual who is trying to take public office ad fight corruption and serve the people of Zambia. So a gang of people have come together to stop that. But they can’t say this guy is a thief, they can’t say this guy is a criminal, so they have to come up with something, the facts are there, let the people of Zambia judge.”
Hichilema then challenged Nawakwi to put her allegations in writing so that he could respond.
“I would like you to make that allegation to me in writing and I will respond to you and you can put a copy Hot FM because they are the platform you have used. I will respond and give you the details that I have never bought a house from Lima Bank. I don’t steal, I will never steal and I was never brought up like that. That’s malicious and damaging. I don’t have time to pursue lies which are told openly out of hatred. I have no time for that. So, you are lying on that radio and it’s unacceptable that you can tell lies on public radio stations. So, I would like you and I to settle this matter through Hot FM. I have never even sold a mine Edith, you know that. Thank you very much.”
Meanwhile, PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri also called in, urging Nawakwi not to feel intimidated but to do as Hichilema advised so that the public could see who the liar was.
“Since my sister you have been given a challenge, you talked about the Lima Bank house, and you talked about Intercontinental, and as he has challenged you, put down your data so that you tell us in details. And he has said that you come back to Hot FM and I hope that is going to help us so that this can be put to rest once and for all. And don’t feel intimidated in whatever way you are called. For me, Mr Hakainde Hichilema is my son in law but do you know that he called as a woman with a lot of talk time with no substance? I challenged him and in fact, I have a list of UPND MPs who benefited from the land they call corruption Forest 27. And I repeat that I have their numbers, and their NRCs. Jack Mwiimbu got in the name of the wife, Moono Lubezhi got it and put it in a company, Musheli Mulyata got and put it in the daughters name, only [Ephraim] Belemu got it in his name because he is not dubious. You can imagine, when you are pointing a finger at somebody, be clean yourself. So, I will pray for you that you put that data together we see who is telling the truth,” said Phiri.