We are happy to see Mr Valden Findlay come out to defend himself over the drug trafficking allegations made. Those who are accused of wrongdoing deserve an opportunity to be heard so that they are not judged unfairly in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, the renowned drug king-pin who implicated Mr Findlay in his court testimony in America is not available to prove his claim that the Lusaka businessman is indeed involved in drug trafficking.
But in defending himself, there is something else that Mr Findlay said that caught our attention. When he was asked to explain the nature of friendship he has with President Edgar Lungu and the kind of business they do together, Mr Findlay said that should not bother anyone because it’s his personal and private life. Said Mr Findlay, “It is none of anybody’s business. It is my personal life!”
This defence sounds like the statement that Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo made when this scandal broke out. Mr Lusambo said the Republican President has the right to choose who to make friends with and owes no one an explanation. That sounds like something smart to say, until someone realises that they are talking about an elected public servant with a borrowed mandate to run the affairs of this country on behalf of all the taxpayers and voters.
Firstly, let’s agree that when a President chooses his friends, those friends, by default, become friends of all the people he represents. It is for that reason that citizens cannot accept to see their elected President playing in the mud with pigs, just because he has chosen swines as his playmates. When a Head of State is seen hanging around with cold blooded murderers, the citizens of that country have the right to say “we don’t like your friends, Mr President”, and if he doesn’t listen, they can use that as a basis for voting him out of power.
Our point is that, as long as he remains in power, a President’s friend is also a friend of the people he represents. Therefore, the conduct of that President’s friend must reflect good morals and command respect. We are not seeing that in Mr Findlay. His friendship with President Lungu is one, which has absolutely no benefit to the presidency or the people of Zambia. It’s a destructive friendship hinged on dubious dealings.
If we ask Mr Findlay to tell us the date he became President Lungu’s best friend, his answer will be very embarrassing. He was not there when Mr Lungu was suffering, struggling with life to the extent of stealing a client’s money for survival. It was only after the man became President of Zambia that tenderpreneurs like Mr Findlay went to cling to Mr Lungu like leeches in muddy water. This is what the people of Zambia are rejecting. They know that this is how state capture happens.
Secondly, to say ‘my friendship with the President is private and personal’ cannot stand, especially in the case of Mr Findlay, because, for a long time, he has been using and abusing public resources. He has been enjoying VVIP State House treatment at the expense of taxpayers, yet he is not a government official.
To us, that does not sound like a personal or private affair. If Mr Findlay tells us that the US$130 million Gulfstream Ferrari in the sky, which he frequently flies in, was bought by his profit from Chrismar Hotel, we will understand. But if that is taxpayers’ money, then there is nothing personal or private about his indulgence in the presidency and people have the right to question him. So, Mr Findlay should sit down and shut up.
Like we said the other time, we have never heard of a press conference where Mr Findlay was signing an MoU with any government institution. There is no known official business that he does with government, yet he has full drive-in clearance at State House. From whatever angle you look at, there is suspicion painted all over Mr Findlay’s relationship with the President. There is nothing he can say to defend it.
But this should not bother Mr Findlay too much because he has nothing to lose. The loser is the one who has auctioned his presidential powers to the highest bidder. When President Lungu loses power, he must apportion a good percentage of blame to his friends like Mr Findlay. For now, let them continue drinking Jameson happily. In Bemba they say insansa shinya ubulanda!