Peter Sinkamba
Peter Sinkamba

By Darious Kapembwa

GREEN PARTY president Peter Sinkamba has jumped to the defence of former foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji, saying the latter owned Gibson Hotel way before he was elected member of parliament.

Gibson Hotel is a subject of corruption investigation as law enforcement agencies pursue Malanji.

And Sinkamba says the state’s loss of damages paid to senior chief Mukuni’s wife Veronica, the state’s loss of Dora Siliya bike’s case and President Hakainde Hichilema’s treason case are lessons of how tax payers’ money could be lost in form of damages to poorly investigated cases.

Malanji was last week arrested by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) for alleged corruption involving K10 million and US $700,000, with his hotel situated on the Kitwe-Chingola Road being part of the investigation.

The DEC has since seized Malanji’s two helicopters currently parked in South Africa which are due to be brought back to Zambia.
Commenting on the development, Sinkamba described the state’s decision to seize the helicopters as irrational.

“Those of us living in Kitwe know too well that he owned the hotel long before he was first elected as member of parliament. Most importantly, there is need to be mindful always that damages are minimised in the event that the State loses the cases,” he said.

“We are however worried with the issue of the two helicopters where the law enforcement agencies announced a few days ago that they are making arrangements to go and fetch them from South Africa where they are packed.

We think that this decision is extremely irrational for two reasons. First, because of the costs involved to move them from there to Zambia. This is likely to be colossal to be borne by the State. Second, it is the parking and maintenance costs, once the helicopters will be in State hands, then it takes full responsibility for these costs.”

Sinkamba explained that some aircraft manufacturers had their own preferred dealers to service their fleet.

“Some manufacturers require that only their certified experts are authorised to service their fleet. So, this may entail periodic bringing into the country experts for such service. Third, it is dry costs. Once the helicopters are in the hands of the State, then from day one, the bill starts running on a daily basis,” he cautioned.

“The assumption will be that the helicopters would have been hired daily, but for the State having taken possession of them, it is not clear how long the cases will take. So, these costs could run in millions of kwacha, if the State lost the cases.”

Sinkamba advised those in authority against carrying on with ‘ni ndalama za boma (its state money) mantra in apparent reference to the money lost in failed anti-corruption fights in the past.

“In my mind is the manner in which previous regimes high-handedly handled cases only to lose them, and the state was condemned to damages. For example, in the recent past, we saw how the Dora Siliya case was handled only to lose it. Damages will follow. We also saw the case of former Intelligence chief Xavier Chungu, only to lose. Damages will follow,” said Sinkamba.

“Additionally, we saw how the so-called treason cases of President Hakainde Hichilema and senior chief Mukuni’s wife were handled. Damages will surely follow. Now, we have Honourable Joe Malanji’s cases involving the Hotel in Kitwe and helicopters. We hope that the law enforcement agencies will rethink how they handle the helicopters’ recovery. Let sanity prevail, not emotion and playing to the gallery.”


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