NATIONAL Democratic Congress leader Chishimba Kambwili has raised a red flag over the tauted purchase of Chrismar Hotel by the National pension Scheme Authority.
Speaking at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court this morning, Kambwili said the intended purchase of Chrismar Hotel by the National Pensions Scheme Authority at US$18 million was scandalous as the value of the said property had been dilated.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong in NAPSA investing in infrastructure in hotels and in any other business so that they can raise money to pay the pensioners when the time comes but in doing that the law was very clear that NAPSA must stick to the norms that whatever investment they take their money into must benefit the pensioners,” Kambwili said.
He proposed that pensioneers must have access to facilities that NAPSA invests in such as houses and shopping malls.
The National Pensions Scheme Authority is currently negotiating the purchase of Chrismar Hotel situated on Los Angeles Boulevard road in Lusaka with its owner Valden Findlay, an associate of President Edgar Lungu.
Findlay has pegged the hotel at US$18 million which is deemed to be higher than the actual value at which the property ought to be sold.
But Kambwili wondered what was exceptional about the hotel for government to purchase it at an exorbitant price.
“What is of concern here is the amount that they (NAPSA) are quoting for Chrismar hotel. Without any malice, let me tell the Zambians, in case they have forgotten that Luanshya mines; the whole mining complex from the smelter, the general offices, Baluba 14 shaft, 28 shaft was sold for US$6 million, Konkola Copper Mines (in liquidation) with the NChanga open pit in Chingola, Nchanga undergrounds, Terlings leach plant, high grade leach plant, concentrator was sold for US$25 million,” Kambwili stressed. “Now compare and contrast the complicity of the mining industry, the whole Nchanga mine with all the vehicles, all the equipment, fimazembe fyonse (excavators everything) think of it, US$25 million , then Luansya mines, fimazembe fyonse (all heavy duty mining equipment) think of it US$6 million then what is there at Chrismar that can cost US$18 million to the government?”
He cautioned the evaluator of the hotel against being entangled.
“I want to warn the evaluator who evaluated Chrismar and also those who are involved in negotiating this deal that Zambians are not stupid. If we sold our mines for US$6 million for Luanshya, we sold KCM at US$25 million, there is no way we can buy Christmar Hotel through NAPSA at US$18 million. That is a scandal that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist,” Kambwili said. “Those who are involved, please do the right thing on behalf of the pensioners and the people of Zambia. If it is true Chrismar hotel is US$18 million and NAPSA wants to buy it, I will leave it to the people of Zambia and those who are involved to search their conscious because this is a moral issue. If you can sell the mines at US$25 million and go and buy Chrismar at US$18 million, if it’s correct, go ahead, if it’s not correct please do the honorable thing not to do it.”
Earlier in court, Kambwili’s lawyer Keith Mweemba asked the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court to acquit the former of a charge of expressing or showing hatred, ridicule or contempt for persons because of race.
Mweemba submitted that the proceedings were a nullity and the court should acquit the accused pursuant to section 206 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) as the offense Kambwili is facing cannot be prosecuted without consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
This is in a matter where Kambwili is charged with one count of expressing or showing hatred, ridicule or contempt for persons because of race.
It is alleged that Kambwili on February 19, 2020 expressed racial remarks on Rajesh Kumar Verma, an Indian.
In a video that went viral, Kambwili reprimanded Verma when he found him operating a compactor under the Lusaka decongestion project saying such jobs belonged to Zambians.
When the matter came up before magistrate Jenifer Bwalya for continued trial, Mweemba submitted that the consent purported to have been issued by the DPP was based on offences that deal with morality under section 161 of the penal code and the said offences relate to incest.
“Section 70(2) of the penal code says a person shall not be prosecuted under the said Section without consent of the DPP. I never saw a written consent from the DPP. These proceedings are a nullity and the accused should be acquitted,” Mweemba submitted.
He said Kambwili has no case to answer because Kumar has never been before court to give his side of the story.
He also said the author of the video was not before court and the danger of manipulation of the said video before court could not be excluded.
Mweemba said the witnesses did not disclose why Kambwili reprimanded Kumar, neither was the author known.
“The court is not bound by opinion evidence but make its own findings. No witness from ZICTA or a forensic report was submitted before court to prove the allegations. The court should consider the demeanor of the witnesses as this case should not have been brought to court,” said Mweemba. “This is a proper case for the court to acquit the accused at no case to answer.”
In response, state prosecutor Brian Siyanyengo said the prosecution would rely on the evidence on record.
Earlier, Chikuba Muluti, an assistant superintendent and deputy criminal investigations officer for Lusaka rural, said he charged and arrested Kambwili for expressing or showing hatred to persons due to race or colour.
He said during warn and caution, Kambwili denied the charge.
Muluti said in the video, Kambwili advanced towards the Indian who was operating a compactor and uttered hate remarks.
In cross-examination, Muluti said the video was downloaded from social media by Mark Ziligone though he could not tell whether it was edited.
When asked if he was aware that Kumar almost hit Kambwili’s car with the compactor as he was driving by, Muluti denied saying the video does not show where the argument started from.
He said he does not have evidence to show that Kambwili had a habit of confronting Indians.
“I can’t tell what transpired at the scene if the video was altered,” Muluti said
He confirmed that he had not produced evidence to show that Kumar was Indian.
The witness confirmed that the issue was to do with job creation in the country and not race.
He further confirmed that the Indian never filed a complaint against Kambwili neither were efforts made to search for the author of the video by advertising in the media.
Magistrate Bwalya reserved ruling to December 4, 2020.