By OLIVER SAMBOKO
GIVEN Lubinda, the former Minister of Justice is alarmed at the level of neglect Hakainde Hichilema, the UPND president has exhibited in refusing to pay pensioners owed money by his company with some dying while waiting for their pension.
This comes after the spokesperson of the 235 (137 have died) pensioners Mr Expendito Chipalo revealed that he is now depending on the goodwill of relatives and friends to survive on weekly dialysis as his pension remains stuck and accumulating profits in Mr Hichilema´s companies Saturnia Regina and Africa Life in Lusaka.
“I have to spend about K7, 000 per week for dialysis in order to stay alive,” Mr Chipalo said in an interview. “I am suffering greatly as my pension remains in Mr Hichilema´s account but at least am alive…137 of my fellow pensioners have died needlessly while waiting for Mr Hichilema to pay us. It’s really sad.”
Mr Chipalo is one of the 235 former BP pensioners who were retrenched by the British-owned company 19 years ago and are still waiting to get paid.
Mr Lubinda, a long term parliamentarian from Kabwata said the development calls for concern on whether Mr Hichilema should aspire for the topmost job in the country.
“The simple question is if he doesn’t care about paying what he owes even after 137 people have died leaving widows and orphans, how can he be expected to take care of a whole country?” Mr Lubinda said.
The former Minister of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Information said the “final call” on Mr Hichilema´s aspirations must be made urgently by Zambians ahead of the polls he is challenging President Lungu.
The story of Mr Chipalo is not an isolated one because it is shared by 100 surviving pensioners from the British energy company BP and yet some more in the Copperbelt Province