Government has continued to tell the same lie over and over again, hoping that maybe along the way it would probably graduate into being the truth. Well, that only works when there is no evidence to the contrary, but the criminality around the digital migration scandal is too documented to attract any believability from members of the public.

When we published an editorial comment explaining how the Chinese took over the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, those who get paid to defend government lies countered our opinion with a cheap argument that the records at PACRA were unchanged and as such, ZNBC remained an autonomous institution. In essence, they want citizens to stay calm and believe that their public institution is as viable as ever, as long as it maintains its business name.

Look here PF spin-doctors. We never alleged that ZNBC will change its name to TopStar; we never said that ZNBC will now start broadcasting in Chinese (even though that is a very eminent possibility), our point has always been that the Chinese are calling the shots at the national broadcaster and they have ring-fenced the cash flow. We said TopStar is in charge of ZNBC’s commercial operations and no one will control its income until the loan which was obtained from StarTimes is paid in full. So where is the misinformation here? Is this not what the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is confirming?

“The Competition and Consumer Protection (CCPC) has granted a conditional authorization to the proposed merger between Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Hantex International Corporation Limited (Hantex) which is controlled by StarTimes International Holdings Limited (Star times International). This follows an application for the merger of the two entities, to the Competition by Top Star on 20th June 2018,” CCPC board chairperson Kelvin Bwalya Fube said in a statement.

“In granting of the condition authorization of the merger, the Board of Commissions noted that the Zambian Government has obtained a loan towards the implementation of the Digital Migration, which loan has to be repaid.”

This is exactly as we reported. But you see, when this statement was issued, no one panicked more than those in government and the ZNBC board in particular. They knew that this announcement was going to confirm what we had been writing about. So they hurriedly released an unsolicited explanation in a statement, which only made the confusion worse.

“ZNBC is hundred percent owned by the citizens and cannot be sold or taken over without the approval of Parliament. The relationship between ZNBC and StartTimes is in relations to the formation of the joint venture company called TopStar. The two companies have retained their full operational and ownership autonomy and the statement from CCPC must therefore be taken in the context of ZNBC and StarTimes coming together to create TopStar Communication Company Limited,” said ZNBC board chairperson Mulenga Kapwepwe.

Come on madam Kapwepwe, you are not answering the right questions here. The Zambian people are demanding very simple answers. Where did ZNBC get the US$273 million for digital migration? Answer; they acquired a loan from StarTimes of China. Who is controlling the cash flow at ZNBC? It is the joint venture company called TopStar? How much stake does ZNBC have in that company? The answer is 40 per cent while the Chinese (StarTimes) have 60 per cent. For how long will the Chinese remain in charge of the national broadcaster’s cash flow? Until the whole loan amount is repaid.

We wonder why it is so difficult for those in government to admit simple facts as stipulated above. If there is any lie in the answers we have given, let someone in this government stand up and point to the misinformation. These are facts which are well documented in the agreements that ZNBC has signed, denying any of this is only but foolish.

From where we stand, the rest of the confusion that the government people are trying to create doesn’t make sense at all. Our point has been that TopStar in in charge of ZNBC now as far as it’s commercial operations are concerned, and that cannot be disputed. That is why we are saying that on this particular scandal, no lie told 10 times or a hundred times will ever graduate to become the truth.

If anything, it is also not in dispute that StarTimes was single sourced by State House. So the Zambian people must demand that government publishes the breakdown of expenditure for this digital migration deal. We are very sure that a huge chunk of money from this loan went into private pockets, and these are people who are defending the ‘sale’ of ZNBC with such a passion. They ate, and they continue to eat from the deal, that is why they are not getting tired telling the same lies over and over even when they get exposed.

Our readers may have forgotten what these shameless spin-doctors said in January this year when the Auditor General revealed that government had acquired a loan through StarTimes without a repayment plan. Both ZNBC and then Minister of Information Honourable Kampamba Mulenga said the loan had not even been actualized and there was no interest that the national broadcaster had defaulted in payment.

But these lies are now catching up with the originators. What they denied as false is being confirmed by State regulatory institutions which are finding it difficult to join the parade of shameless falsifiers. These guys will continue to deny what is written in black and white, but only a fool will be duped. They have put ZNBC on lease.