News has broken out that a renowned African “drug lord” of Indian origin, Vijaygiri Vicky Goswami, whom the American government extradited from Kenya and turned into a State witness in the on-going trial of a drug trafficking syndicate in Africa, has implicated President Edgar Lungu’s close friend and businessman Valden Findlay by naming him as one of the people involved in the cartel.
Citizens in Zambia are expressing concern with this revelation as documents containing court transcripts of Goswami’s cross examination spread on the Internet and social media. The scandal has become an instant international story, attracting the attention of donors, investors and world governing bodies.
State House knows that this is very bad publicity for the President of Zambia, but they don’t know what to do about it. They wish this was fake news, or that it would quickly pass like many other scandals, so that life can continue as usual. But the opposition, particularly Mr Chishimba Kambwili, has refused to let this issue pass without raising questions.
Noting that the accused drug trafficker is a personal best friend of the Republican President, Mr Kambwili is demanding to know the nature of business that the businessman and the Head of State are involved in. Now that the President’s best friend has, once again, been implicated in drug trafficking, what does Dr Good Governance Lungu and his State House have to say about this?
“State House takes very seriously any allegation related to drug trafficking. Therefore, Zambian law enforcement agencies will take appropriate steps to investigate the allegations in connection with drug trafficking in coordination with all appropriate authorities,” stated President Lungu’s spokesperson Isaac Chipampe in one of the most bizarre press statements that this country has ever seen.
Why is State House directing investigative wings to specifically probe this matter, and who do they want these investigative wings to investigate? Mr Valden Findlay or Mr Chishimba Kambwili? We are asking because the investigative wings have already pounced on Mr Kambwili who is asking the questions and not Mr Findlay who has been mentioned in a court proceeding in New York.
The infamous Goswami has named more than one Zambian in his testimony, but people are specifically interested in Mr Findlay because he is a person of public interest. Mr Findlay flies, eats and drinks with President Lungu. The President goes to his house, we are reliably informed. So this accusation that the President’s besty is involved in drug trafficking deserves an explanation. We want to see investigative wings interrogate Mr Findlay so that he can exonerate himself.
In April this year, we published an opinion demanding to know why Mr Findlay has been a frequent flyer on the President’s luxury jet, to the extent that he also gets VVIP treatment by Cabinet Office and State House protocol officials. We recall that when Prince Harry visited Zambia, Mr Findlay was captured in a photograph, standing right in-between the President of Zambia and the Prince. In our view, this was a manifestation of State capture.
When we talk about State Capture, some people imagine a Head of State being held captive and confined in isolation while the captors run the affairs of the country. As long as citizens see President Lungu flying around and visiting their towns to commission projects with the Coat of Arms on the Presidential motorcade, they think everything is in place and the man is in control of the presidency. No, things are not as they appear to be in Zambia.
It starts slow, but eventually as the captors become more and more confident of their authority of the captured state, they begin to show themselves to the public. Against, this is what we felt when we saw Mr Findlay alighting the brand new US$130 million presidential jet behind President Lungu in Ndola on April 2, 2019.
To date, we have not found the answers. What was Mr Findlay doing on the presidential entourage during that three-day state visit? Is he one of the State House advisors or an advisor to the President’s advisors perhaps? When this businessman was posing on pictures with the President and Cabinet ministers during the Reed Dance in eSwatini, we were told that he is a successful businessman who could afford his own air ticket to the event. But what about in Ndola? Who paid for his travel, food and accommodation?
We are seeing this man having a jolly ride in the Gulfstream, even before our Republican Vice-President tests the comfort of that Ferrari in the sky that we, the citizens, are being forced to pay for. What is going on? What kind of conversations does President Lungu hold with this businessman when they are flying together on presidential duty? This is the State Capture that we are talking about.
We are here to tell President Lungu, once again, that Mr Findlay was not elected by the citizens of Zambia. This drug trafficking case in which he has been implicated should serve as a warning for the Head of State to watch his step. The DEA of America is not as compromising as our DEC here in Zambia, who are chasing after a news consumer, leaving the accused drug trafficker. This may end very badly.