I HAVE noted with sadness an illegal recording being circulated of the conversation I held with the Bank of Zambia Governor, Mr. Christopher Mvunga.
Let me give a brief background to this innocent conversation that has been misconstrued.
It is public knowledge that the government owes local contractors, and suppliers of goods and services over $5 billion for infrastructural works done, goods supplied and services provided.
So when the Bank of Zambia recently advertised for the open market to buy Government Bonds and Treasury Bills, various contractors and suppliers owed money by Government approached many of us deemed of influence and have served in Government to understand how the money owed to them by the state could be turned into Government Bonds or Treasury Bills.
It is public knowledge that I have served in Government as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Labour, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services. I have also been a member of parliament for many years.
Such questions and inquiries for me are therefore normal.
It is in this light that I approached the Ministry of Finance to understand the process, if at all it was provided for in the law, to turn Government debt owed to suppliers and contractors into Government Bonds.
I needed to know how suppliers’ or contractors’ debt could be converted into Government Bonds or Treasury Bills.
So I am rather surprised that such an innocent inquiry has been portrayed to impugn alleged criminality.
In fact, I expressed surprise when the Bank of Zambia Governor, Mr. Christopher Mvunga called me expressing anxiety about my inquiry. But for those who know Mr. Mvunga, I knew I would have to wait to have a decent conversation later when he was more in an appropriate mood.
I still don’t understand why he expressed annoyance about my inquiry whether I had breached procedure or protocol or how the conversation was recorded.
I wish to emphasise that I do not engage in criminality or shady deals. I am a leader and a decent businessman for many decades. My inquiry was innocent. and remains innocent.
I still want answers if such a financial scheme is possible for local contractors who are owed a lot of money by Government.
My appeal therefore is to President Hakainde Hichilema to dismantle this huge debt owed to local suppliers, contractors and those that provide a service to Government.
This debt has choked the local economy and has led many businesses to go into difficulties, bankruptcy and disruption.
DR CHISHIMBA KAMBWILI.