Presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) is under fire to explain what sort of deals he has promised to foreign mining companies believed to be financing his campaigns.
During a press conference held yesterday, Zambian Voice Executive Director Chilufya Tayali says that HH is “mortgaging” Zambia by taking monies from foreign mining groups and promising them unknown rewards in exchange.
“We are aware that politicians are mortgaging this country to foreigners to attain power,” Tayali said in a statement circulated to media. “We are extremely concerned about this and we promise to expose all political leaders getting monies from foreign powers because we believe nothing come for free. We need to maintain our independence but it would be folly for us to expect our leaders to be reign over our resources freely when they have indebted themselves heavily from foreign powers.”
The NGO leader Tayali referred directly to an earlier report published in African Confidential which exposed that Hichilema had been flown to South Africa on multiple occasions to meet with the ultra-wealthy Oppenheimer mining family, and also pointed to HH’s continued large shareholding in Anglo American, which if true would represent a “conflict of interest” for a presidential candidate.
The founder of the UPND, Anderson Mazoka, was the chief executive of Anglo American’s operations in Zambia, however shortly after he lost the election in 2001 to Levy Mwanawasa, the company pulled out of Zambia causing the sale at a great loss of the Konkola Copper Mine (KCM). However last year the company returned to Zambia, winning two exploration licenses in Northwestern Province.
Tayali said that there was a lot of unexplained flow of money towards some major political parties that could lead to the country being auctioned.
“We want to ask Mr Hichilema to tell us the source of his funding because we know that there is no one who can give you that amount of money for free. This is not healthy for our country,” he said. “Mr. Hichelima must disclose the true nature of his relationship with Anglo American and other South African business interests whom he has been meeting in the recent past.”
Tayali is asking that Mr. Hichilema reveal what financial interests he holds in relation to Anglo American, and also that he publish his “financial affairs and various shareholdings for the Zambian people to see so that he is not accused of defrauding Zambians if he is elected as President.”
Zambians should not just vote for a politician because he/she is surrounded by so many people who mostly are job seekers, Tayali argued. “Popularity of a person does not necessarily mean integrity, or political acumens and quality. Zambians need to look for a mature leader who will look at their interest and has a vision for Zambia. Politics is about benefits, but such benefits should not just be limited to the elected but also the electorates.”