WE are shocked with the revelations by the representatives of the Konkola Copper Mines retirees who have expressed their lamentations in the pension scheme which turned out to be a scam. The relevant authorities must lend their ears to the aggrieved miners and ensure that the owners of the scheme account and take responsibility for their action. While we are objectively looking at the circumstances under which they are robbed, as believers of the pro poor policies of the PF, we sympathize with the pensioners.
We have learnt that a opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has proprietary interests in the firm which is at the heart of the controversy, Saturnia Pension Trust Fund. We wonder why the tag of fraud continues to hang on his head especially that he masquerades as an infallible person who has no stains of financial malpractices. This with some outstanding issues that he has failed to answer with the national broad-caster Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) extended an olive branch to him in the interest of fairness.
The named opposition leader should know that the questionable misapplication of Pensioner’s money is a political question which should be given political answers to our satisfaction. He needs to be courageous and account to the ex-miners especially that most of them have since passed on and their labour has been thrown in a dry cast ocean.
Even though the opposition leader may not entirely own the company, his ties with the company that has been found culpable for defraud-ing pensioners by the Courts of law brings the integrity of his Presidency into disrepute. HH who is a shareholder for African Life Financial Services which runs Saturnia and continues to be at the centre of the pension crisis yet he takes petty assumption that all will be rosy for pensioners who have been promised to get their arrears at a speed of light. Charity begins at home.
It is not also correct to associate the pursuit for justice by pensioners to politics. If anything, the pensioners waged the political battle way before the PF was born and the litigation has been prolonged by the legal gaps which has created room for Saturnia to utilise to their ad-vantage. Although there has been series of appeals, the fact is that pensioners have been winning all the cases. Mr Hichilema must take re-sponsibility for this and make peace with miners and other people who may have been injured by his corporate errors or else he risks being politically bruised. The privatization ghost and questions of impropriety in the acquisition of Livingstone Royal Hotel and now the Saturnia Pension Fund Trust haunts him.
Although this was a private commercial transactions, it becomes a matter of public interest looking at his ambitions to be entrusted with state power. The questions of inappropriate commercial affiliations should be resolved so that Zambians make an informed decision. We therefore plead with people who have an opportunity to talk to the unapproachable HH, to engage him and in turn he can explain himself. We also hope he will comply with the ultimatum which has been given by retirees.
On the other hand, the Anti Corruption Commission and other law enforcement agencies must proactively pursue this matter so that the is-sue can be brought to rest.
MARVIN CHANDA MBERI Youth Rights Activist, Chingola