We are not surprised that Mr Aleksander Zingman has found himself in problems in Congo. When this newspaper published photographs showing Mr Zingman posing with President Edgar Lungu, businessman Valden Findlay, the then defence permanent secretary Stardy Mwale, Airforce Commander Lt Gen David Muma, and Zambia’s defence attaché to Moscow Lt Gen Robert Kampenshi, we raised the alarm, we warned our leaders to be careful with the people they associate with.
Unfortunately, they rubbished our works and accused us of being malicious. But we stand by our warning because everything about those photographs told us that there was something wrong with the President’s apparent closeness to a person of questionable publicity, such as Mr Aleksander Zingman. What has happened to the President’s friend in Congo is confirmation of the suspicions that we had.
It cannot be disputed that Mr Zingman was involved in questionable transactions with the Zambian government. But when we raised questions to our government, no one seemed to have the courage to answer, they all seemed to be hiding behind Zingman who tried to intimidate us with a threat of a court action in England. Our people must be reminded that we called his bluff and told Mr Zingman to sue us because we were very sure that there was nothing that we published that was false, or even remotely defamatory of him.
Mr Zingman’s clumsy lawyer tried to deflate our interest in this story by telling us that Mr Zingman was not an arms dealer and that the real arms dealer was another Russian called Fishman, whom he claimed was behind our stories. It is interesting to learn that the person arrested and detained in Congo is not the said Fishman, but Aleksander Zingman, the same man who was involved in brokering questionable so-called defence deals for the Zambian government.
Our point is that Mr Zingman’s arrest in Congo should make our government come out clean and tell the public what its relationship is with this questionable character. President Lungu and even his friend Valden Findlay were conspicuous in their silence over Zingman. They knew the problem they were dealing with. They knew that what we were talking about was true, and the arrest of their friend in Congo raises fresh questions. Whilst the embattled NDC president Chishimba Kambwili is busy apologising to Findlay, we want to know what deals the Lusaka businessman has been doing with the Zambian government.
We have never hidden what our interest is in this matter. This government has been recklessly borrowing money for all kinds of projects, and using people like Mr Zingman to overcharge the Zambian taxpayers. They are borrowing knowing that they don’t have to pay back this money themselves, it is the Zambian public that will have to pay. This is why we question the kind of business associations that State House keeps.
We have not forgotten that when we confronted the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, he dismissed our concerns, and even said it does not matter to him what type of people he associates with. The controlling officer in charge of the Ministry of Defence proudly said being photographed with Zingman, a person of questionable reputation was okay. So when an ally of his gets arrested by a neighbouring country, it raises questions about the kind of deals that they do with him here in Zambia. The question is, where did Stardy Mwale get all that money to afford the expensive property he now owns. What were the dealings between Mr Stardy Mwale and the Airforce Commander, Lt. Gen Muma? What about Kampenshi in Moscow? What was his involvement in these deals?
The appearance of characters such as Zingman in the corridors of power is a clear sign that the system is rotten. We say these things not out of disrespect for the sitting President, but because we have seen these things before. As we have previously stated, it is only a matter of time, someone will have to explain to the Zambian people what Zingman was doing in Zambia, how much money he made from us and whom he shared it with.
Characters like Mr Zingman operate on a very simple principle, if at all you can call it a principle. They know that many of our leaders in Africa don’t care about the people they lead, and they are easy to compromise. We can only imagine what he was up to in Congo, and now he has found himself in some hot soup. One thing that is clear is that he was up to no good. He may pull some strings and get out, but that does not mean that there is nothing wrong he has done. His character will remain questionable.
Anyway, what the Congolese do is none of our business. Our concern is for our government to answer these questions that we have asked. How can a welcome guest in Zambia be arrested in Congo on alleged arms deals? What does that say about our State House and the President?