Lungu’s next scandal is warming up in Kenya

Prominent among the few who travelled to Kenya with President Edgar Lungu last week was Mr Valden Findlay, a powerful Lusaka-based businessman with influential links to State House.

Last time this businessman travelled with the President to Swaziland, there was a public outcry about public resources being used to finance luxurious trips for private individuals and Patriotic Front cadres. This was after it was discovered that Mr Findlay who owns Chrismar Earth Moving Equipment and Michelo Shakantu who own Inyatsi Construction company, were on the entourage.

“Mr Valden Findlay is a businessman, do you think, in his own capacity, he can fail to pay for his accommodation or air ticket? Mr Findlay owns Chrismar Hotel, he has been in business for a long time. You think he can fail to pay for his trip to Swaziland?” Chief government spokesperson then Mulenga Kampamba questioned when we asked about the President’s huge delegation to the Reed Dance last year.

“There was the presidential affairs minister that accompanied him, there is a political advisor, and there was a press aide. Those are part of the presidential delegation. Every time a President travels, he travels with this delegation. There is no way he can travel alone…look, this is the presidency for goodness’ sake. The Presidency is a big institution and we are not going to demean and undermine the institution just because someone says one or two people should accompany the President. Ubufuma bucindika umwine.”

Sure enough, the President’s critics, including Mr Chishimba Kambwili who accused the presidency of wasting money to go and watch pointy teenage breasts at the Reed Dance, were shamed for being petty. There was nothing sinister about the trip, we were told, until the corruption that State House went to fetch in eSwatini came knocking in broad daylight.

An old adage says you can run with a lie, but you can’t hide with the truth. The darker the night that conceals crimes, the brighter the sunshine that reveals it. A simple presidential delegation ended up in a huge corruption scandal which will keep the courts very busy when the time for reckoning comes.

We have reason to suspect a conspiracy to commit crimes on President Lungu’s recent trip to Kenya by himself and those who were on his unusual entourage. We can be called petty today and probably harassed for raising questions around this suspicious trip, but in good time, we will be vindicated.

What was so special about this Kenyan trip, which was so important that the Head of State would leave behind a State funeral for his Cabinet Minister. Was he in need of emergency medical treatment? No, he wasn’t. We are told the President’s health has actually never been better. Was there a State function in Kenya that he could not miss? No, the world famous national reconciliation between Uhuru Kenyata and opposition leaders already took place. There is no record or story of an official invitation from President Lungu’s counterpart for a working visit. So what did President Lungu go to do in Kenya.

We have seen the story coming out of the Kenyan press, and it is laughable to say the least, because this trip actually came barely a week after a delegation of Zambian members of parliament were turned into a laughing stock in that country for going to learn how to fight corruption from the inventors of corruption.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu at the weekend held bilateral talks focusing on ways to enhance economic and security cooperation between Kenya and the Southern Africa nation. The talks between the two leaders focused on how to enhance bilateral ties and increase cooperation in sectors including tourism, transport, trade, investment, air-link and regional security. Part of the deals were reached on cooperation in tourism, where Kenya has vast experience, included the training of 50 Zambian students at the globally renown Kenya Utalii College. The training is scheduled to start as soon as feasible,” reported State media.

The stupidity of this cover-up story is that TV stations televised President Lungu signing a visitor’s logbook as if to prove that indeed our Head of State went to sign bilateral agreements between the two countries. But you can tell from Kenyatta’s casual dressing that there was nothing official about this meeting; our President went for something else in Kenya.

Why do we insist? Because President Lungu’s delegation, as seen from the video released by the Kenyan press, is full of Mr Valden Findlay’s face. His press aide remained behind, his economic advisor, was not there, not to mention his presidential photographers. Like Kampamba said, a President can’t travel alone on an official State visit, so why did our Head of State want the fewest number of eyes witnessing what he went to do?

How can it be that President Lungu went to discuss Tourism, without his tourism Minister, Permanent Secretary or even a director? Where was the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Higher Education if indeed President Lungu went to sign regional security memorandum or the training of 50 college students, as we are told? If President Lungu went to cement trade and transport ties with Kenya, who will implement the policies if the Commerce and Transport ministers were not there to know what was agreed?

Anyway, we have been told that taxpayers’ money is safe because Mr Findlay is a rich businessman who can afford a private jet to Kenya. We have been told that even though his company gets government contracts, there is nothing wrong with him appearing in public with the President. So we will say less until nature reveals to us the role he was playing on President Lungu’s entourage, the same way that Mr Shakantu and his Inyatsi company were exposed.

State House can add all the spices to the stories defending this Kenyan trip, but the truth has gastritis; you can manage the mouth but it always finds other outlets. The more spice they add, the louder the revelation.

         

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