UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says it is not true that he got rich after the privatisation process because he already had money before then.
And Hichilema says FDD leader Edith Nawakwi is a PF surrogate.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot seat programme, Friday, Hichilema who has been under fire from Nawakwi who alleges that he benefitted from the privatization process, denied the allegations leveled against him.
“To allege that I made money though the privatization program is far from the truth because even as you will see from this conversation, I started business at a very early age at 26 years old. And at the time the programme came through and even before the programme came through, I was able to buy a property in the name of Sable Road at K61 million in 1995, before I was involved in any transaction of any kind. So, we already had resources and we thank God for that. It’s not true that we made our money through privatization. We were business people,” Hichilema said.
Asked if he participated in the privatization process, Hichilema responded in the affirmative but denied being responsible for the decisions which government made.
“The answer is that I participated in the privatization programme. I was not in charge of the privatization programme. Who was in charge? It was the government of the day, the MMD Government were responsible for the privatization programme. In terms of policy for the privatization programme, they were responsible because I was not part of government. Legally, they were responsible because they set up the privatization Act of 1992 as the government of the MMD under the late President [Frederick] Chiluba. The MMD government took office in 1991, in 1992, they enacted the Privatization Act which means parliament of that time made the decision and the citizens of this country the privatization Act. After the law was made, there was the cabinet on top, chaired by the president of the time, Mr Chiluba. Under the cabinet, there was a committee of minister within cabinet that were called the committee of minister on privatization [and] HH was not there,” Hichilema said.
“Then there was a Privatization Agency (ZPA) as an institution manager to implement the privatization program. That was where the policy and legal power basically lay. So, the decider was the cabinet chaired by the president and then the sub-committee of a cabinet, inside there were ministers of finance, commerce, mines, tourism, depending on the asset were key. The privatization agency then would ask for expert advice from many people. Thousands of Zambian lawyers, corporate governance institutions, real estate agency, engineering firms, all of them from 1991 to 1992 were somehow involved. And 270 companies were sold. And today, HH was responsible, HH sat below the privatization agency. Us we deal in professional work like asset verification. The answer is yes, in terms of involvement at that level [but] no in terms of responsibility, in terms of power, in terms of legal, in terms of policy power, I was not responsible.”
Hichilema admitted owning a house along Sable Road in Kabulonga but said he did not buy it from Lima Bank as alleged by Nawakwi.
“Madam Nawakwi made this allegation clear, unambiguous [and] I responded on your programme that I never bought a house from Lima Bank, I never stole the house and I don’t steal. Here are the facts about the property. This property is called Farm 488A/14/A/3 Sable Road. That’s the legal identity of public property. I bought this house from a company called TBZ (Tobacco Board of Zambia). This house was advertised [through] public open tenders through the newspaper in 1995. Madam Nawakwi says I stole the house from Lima Bank because in her allegation, I was involved in the privatization of Lima Bank in 1998. But I bought this house through a public tender in 1995. The timeline there does not match. Someone is lying and it is herself who is lying. I say, Edith Nawakwi you lied. I never bought a house from Lima Bank in 1998 or thereafter but in 1995,” Hichilema said.
He said that he never sold any mine in Zambia.
“There is this allegation that this young guy called HH was responsible for privatizing mines and that he and he alone had the power. I have explained that I didn’t have the power. As a service provider, contracted in many times, appointed through public tender either as an individual or as a firm, and of course agreed fees, I got paid. That’s my job [and] my business. There is an allegation that I privatized a mine called RAMCOZ. I never privatized any mine in this country. RAMCOZ was privatized around 1997 and I was not involved. The records are there at the ZPA and at the Zambia Development Agency today. Very clear records [and] you will not find HH’s name there,” Hichilema said.
And Hichilema said Nawakwi is a PF surrogate.
“We need facts and not innuendos, not madam Nawakwi’s venom, anger, and insults. I have never insulted her but she alleges so many things that if I start talking about the things she alleged at that Hot FM programme, it will take four hours for me to respond to each item of bullying me and so on. It doesn’t bother me. I understand what she is trying to do. She is rooting for PF. She is a surrogate of PF. I understand that she belongs there but she must have no issues with me as well. She alleges that I have been president 10 years ago but she has been seeking to be president of Zambia since 1989. Why has she not been president? Do I care? I don’t care,” Hichilema said.
Hichilema said Nawakwi’s allegations were malicious.
“Malice. She is confusing things. She is claiming that I was a receiver. As you can see in our demand letter [to Nawakwi here] Madam Nawakwi alleges that I had an improper and illegal conduct in the privatization and receivership of RAMCOZ. In her insinuation is that this young guy called HH had the power to privatize mines or assets [but it is wrong and completely malicious. And I guess she will have the time to prove herself in court. The issue is that neither did I privatize RAMCOZ nor was I a receiver of RAMCOZ. In her program on Hot FM, she alleged that I stole US $10 million from RAMCOZ [and] how I stole it, I don’t know. She is going to prove that in court. I didn’t steal any money. I am not a thief. I have never stolen anything. I want her to prove that. And I am shocked that a former minister of finance can fail to understand basic facts. It boggles one’s mind,” he said.
“It can only prove one thing that it’s malice. It’s political malice to get HH at all costs even if he is not a criminal. I can invite Zambians who may be doubting what has been going on to say go to companies registry then/ PACRA, go to courts and see the receivership deed of who was appointed a receiver to only recover the money for ZANACO and not to privatize RAMCOZ because it was already privatized three to five years earlier.”
And Hichilema said he was never a shareholder of Sun Mosi oa Tunya Intercontinental Hotel Livingstone at the time of Privatization.
“If there was an asset that delivered more than expectation, it was that project in Livingstone. If there were three or four assets, then it was one of them. There is an allegation that I was a shareholder when the bids came through. The bids under the program were received by ZPA. The material question that did I have a shareholding in Sun to be able to declare a conflict of interest when I was asked to assist by the MMD government through the cabinet and the ZPA. The answer is no. I was never a shareholder. I never bought an asset from Mosi-oa-Tunya that time, along the way up to now, zero. It’s not there. If it is there, I challenge anybody out there to go out and bring the records. Here is a context [in which I said that the MMD government was sleeping when I sold public assets]; because there is persistence that this boy called HH was responsible for the privatization program, I have already answered to say no. and I have answered several times that I wasn’t. But it seems this matter keeps on coming. So, I said I was not the one with the power. The power of the public assets are held by the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the government and on behalf of the citizens of Zambia. So, I said if people keep on saying that I sold the mines, so I said ‘where were you when I was selling these assets?” asked Hichilema.