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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema’s public statement on the ongoing gold and money scandal will help allay fears of a government cover-up that his associates had planted.

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The President yesterday warned that those involved, who could include government officials and State House staff will be on their own once the law catches up with them.

This is a clear deviation from the statement made by Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Jack Mwiimbu.

In what amounted to pre-emptying investigations, Mr Mwiimbu warned politicians especially the opposition not to use the incident to scandalise and demonise President Hichilema and State House staff.

In his statement, the minister said President Hichilema and State House staff should be left out of the gold scandal in which the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) seized US$5, 697, 700 from a private jet, pistols, seven magazines, 126 rounds of ammunition and 602 suspected pieces of gold, which has since turned into a combination of copper, zinc and tin.

With his comments, President Hichilema has at least assured that his administration will ensure that there are no sacred cows that will be spared during the ongoing investigations.

President Hichilema says he will ensure that all the questions that remained unanswered about the gold saga that transpired at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) were brought to the table.

The open manner in which President Hichilema has handled the incident is what is expected from all those serving in public offices.

Mr Mwiimbu ought to realise that the incident has captured the public’s imagination as to what could have happened.

To this end, no one should take away the public’s right to comment on the incident which is in the public domain.

Any attempt to stop the public from commenting on the incident with threats of “the law will take its course,” is sending wrong signals that there could be a cover up.

We believe Zambians must be free to debate issues as they see them without fear of the ‘big brother syndrome” synonymous with police states.

Zambians, as President Hichilema alluded to at State House yesterday, know that what transpired at the KKIA was not a normal business transaction but a criminal act.

He was emphatic that the gold and money scandal that took place at the airport was purely a criminal act and all those involved, irrespective of their status whether at State House, government or foreign national will have to face the full wrath of law.

The nation must not ignore that the initial investigations were bungled with the many different statement being issued in trying to “clarify” the genuineness and value of the purported gold and trying to gag citizens from saying anything.

“… I must admit we created a gap in providing information but we do not want to leave room for a vacuum because it leads to innuendos,” observed Mr Hichilema yesterday.

That is the openness expected from his colleagues in the new dawn administration.



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