MANY a time we find ourselves asking questions about the manner in which our country is being governed. This is the primary role of the media in any country, including where there is no freedom of speech, and we do this on behalf of the people of Zambia. When the people do not like the questions we are asking, they do not hesitate to give us that feedback. But when they do like what we ask, it is our duty to demand answers.
Those who are entrusted with the power to govern a country must not take offence when the media asks questions. It is not an offence to ask. In Zambia today, so many suspicious activities have been happening, creating public anxiety and speculation. Unfortunately, the power holders have not shown care to attend to those concerns from the public. Instead, we have noticed their displeasure with those of us who are asking questions.
Please allow us to ask questions because some of the things that we are witnessing are not making sense. If our people in government are innocent and clean, as we have been asked to believe, then our questions must be considered an opportunity for them to enlighten the public and clear all manner of speculation.
We are hereby providing an opportunity to the government and State House to educate the people on the latest development that occurred at sea. Revelations that a ship registered in Zambia and flying a Zambian flag was intercepted by the European Union Naval Force, on the suspicion of carrying illegal arms in contravention of international sanctions and an arms embargo meant to protect Libya, are a great source of concern and raise a lot of questions.
Here are our questions: Why was a Zambian owned or Zambian registered ship plying its trade in the Mediterranean? Who authorised this registration and what is it’s benefit to Zambia? Are there some illegal arms dealers at sea who are using the peaceful Zambian flag to conduct their illegal businesses? Is our government aware of their dealings or is this actually our government moving some classified cargo mubwato?
We have seen from the correspondence that our government is pointing its fingers towards Russia and claiming it is some foreign nationals who are behind this. What does this mean? Under what circumstances are those Russian operating a Zambian registered general cargo ship? Why would someone from Russian cross all the countries that surround the Mediterranean sea and come to register a vessel in landlocked Zambia? Is this what was meant when our former foreign affairs minister said he provides consultancy services to foreign countries using his private company? Is this the source of helicopter money?
This newspaper has previous carried some pictures of a famous Russian/Belarussian businessman going by the name Alexander Zingman. The people of Zambia have seen photographs of Mr Zingman socialising with our Republican President. Is there any link between Mr Zingman and Mr Andrei Buchek who is the captain of this alleged illegal arms transporting vessel?
Why was Mr Zingman, a man who was being feted by our president arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo and thrown out of that country? Should we be surprised that Zambia is being linked to some illegal activities in the Mediterranean sea? Those are the questions we are asking. Surely it must interest the government to provide answers to these questions if they truly care about our national security.
While President Lungu may not fully understand what he is committing himself to in those meetings with some shady businessmen, the business dealings of some people in his inner circle will land this country into some serious trouble if not checked.
We are asking these questions because this is not the only place where we are being linked to illegal activities. In 2020, we heard some disturbing news from court proceedings in Rwanda where a confessed rebel leader claimed that his militia group had received funding from our Head of State. The accuser went ahead to name the person whom he claimed to be the link between his group and the President of Zambia.
Upon investigation, it was discovered that the said Rwandan national was in fact working for the Industrial Development Corporation. This development ended with President Lungu sending a special envoy with his plane to go to Rwanda for talks with that country’s President. Can we say that our people are not in order not to ask questions over the alleged arms contraband at sea?
It would have made sense if a ship registered in Zambia is alleged to be carrying illegal maize or kandolo. But arms? That is really not our trade mark as a country. We don’t hate President Lungu, and we have no intention of maligning his persona. Even those who surround President Lungu are entitled to conduct business, within or outside Zambia. But what is of concern to us is that they seem to be using the power that the people of Zambia gave them to do illegal things. If we are stopped from asking questions, if we are stopped from sharing the information we gather with the citizens of this country, we will have a completely lawless country presided over by fearless lawbreakers.
The political interests of the party in power must not be served at the expense of national security or mortgaging national assets. We know ni pabwato, but ubwato bwankondo tatulebufwaya.