THE decision by the United Party for National Development (UPND) through its legal committee to institute legal proceedings against Forum for Democracy and Development President Edith Nawakwi for her “continued slanderous accusations” against the party’s president Mr Hakainde Hichilema is disingenuous for many reasons.
Firstly, this is a cynical attempt to control or spin the abducted Hatembo narrative.
Secondly, the issues raised by Ms. Nawakwi have nothing to do with the UPND, they have everything to do with Mr Hichilema as an individual, who has already taken a personal legal initiative to sue her. The matter is in court.
Thirdly, lest it be forgotten, the genesis of the contention lies in a remark by Mr Hichilema about his role in the controversial and highly disputed sale and privatisation of Livingstone Intercontinental Hotel where he personally benefitted in spite of being an official of the negotiating team on behalf of Government. He suggested that Government was “sleeping” when the sale was made.
As former Minister of Finance, Ms Nawakwi responded by accusing Mr Hichilema of corrupt and fraudulent conduct by citing among other things his “fraudulent” acquisition of a farm in Kalomo. This resulted in the civil legal suit that is pending before the Lusaka High Court.
The matter that is not yet before the court, but which has gripped the attention of the nation is the criminal acquisition of Farm Number 1924 over which there was a warn and caution statement taken from Mr Hichilema.
The substance and documentation of this matter are on court record, where Milton and Pheluna Hatembo have claimed the fraudulent acquisition of their farm.
As a newspaper we have published a portion of the statement of claim, in the hope that this matter could be quickly resolved long before the elections.
We say so because the claims tally with the record held at the Ministry of Lands, capturing the manner in which the farm was transferred.
The Police have already stated, in an official statement, that the two siblings who have now disappeared are witnesses in the criminal matter.
It will be advisable for the legal team to help expedite this process to dissipate the welling anger and frustration over the disappearance of the two and to clear Mr Hichilema’s name.
It will be most unfortunate, as Ms Nawakwi foresees that the two will only resurface after nomination as this will prove her misgivings and national apprehension.
In such circumstances, even if Mr Hichilema were to win the elections, such victory will be pyrrhic at worst, and a source of considerable consternation in view of the human suffering that has been wrought on the Hatembo family.
Today, we carry the story of Nasilele, the 35-year-old cerebral palsy afflicted daughter of Pheluna who has not seen her mother for more than two months.
She is unwell and relatives fear for her life. Her condition is pathetic. Nobody should be made to suffer such deprivation for a cause she had no hand in.
Our earnest appeal is for a quick resolution of these matters, the release of the Hatembo syblings so that the country enjoys a free, fair and peaceful election.