VIC FALLS OUT­RAGE

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS - By NA­TION RE­PORTER

The Gov­ern­ment has been chal­lenged to in­ves­ti­gate and ex­plain to the Zam­bian peo­ple the sale of In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel in Liv­ing­stone to Sun In­ter­na­tional, a Panama based com­pany now trad­ing as Avani. Out­rage has been ex­pressed that the Ho­tel, em­brac­ing, a na­tional her­itage, the Vic­to­ria falls was now owned by a Pana­ma­nian com­pany in a sales trans­ac­tion that was less than trans­par­ent. Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tivist Ed­ward Mumbi noted that the ho­tel was mired in se­ri­ous con­flict of in­ter­est al­le­ga­tions which the Anti Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion should in­ves­ti­gate. “Is it true that Mr. Hakainde who was re­port­edly the lead ne­go­tia­tor on be­half of Gov­ern­ment formed Sun In­ter­na­tional in 1997 and then sold the Ho­tel to the com­pany in March 1998?” he asked. Mr Mumbi has fur­ther de­manded that the sale of the ho­tel should be clar­i­fied as it now ap­pears the na­tion got a raw deal fol­low­ing the award­ing of re­duced tax when other play­ers in the tourism sec­tor were pay­ing 35 per­cent as com­pany tax, while Sun Ho­tel was pay­ing 15 per­cent through an agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by the Gov­ern­ment team. He said ced­ing part of the na­tional her­itage site in Liv­ing­stone is a big scan­dal which must be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated fail­ure to which Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue los­ing grip on the coun­try’s nat­u­ral re­source, Mr Mumbi has warned. Speak­ing to the Daily Na­tion yes­ter­day, Mr Mumbi, the for­mer spokesper­son for UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, said the pri­vati­sa­tion of fa­cil­i­ties near na­tional her­itage sites was a scan­dal that Gov­ern­ment must not turn a blind eye to as it com­pro­mised state con­trol over such sites, adding that if such a de­ci­sion was not sanc­tioned by par­lia­ment, it must be re­versed im­me­di­ately. “You can­not put a na­tional her­itage site in pri­vate hands be­cause it de­feats the whole pur­pose of that dec­la­ra­tion and also in­jures the rep­u­ta­tion of Gov­ern­ment be­cause the na­tional her­itage site is the prop­erty for the Zam­bians. The lat­i­tude pre­vi­ous Govern­ments gave to Se­nior Chief Mukuni and Mr. Hichilema is wor­ry­ing hence the need to re­visit th­ese mis­takes. “Put­ting such a site into pri­vate hands must first go to Par­lia­ment to be de­bated upon be­fore we even think of pri­vati­sa­tion and if that process was done by Gov­ern­ment, where is the re­port from the Zam­bia Pri­vati­sa­tion Agency? Gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have no author­ity over ma­jor eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in Liv­ing­stone be­cause of th­ese flaws,” Mr Mumbi said. He said there was a car­tel which had shares in most of the in­sti­tu­tions around the na­tional her­itage site and that Gov­ern­ment must in­ves­ti­gate the en­tire ex­is­tence of such prop­er­ties in Liv­ing­stone to un­der­stand who owned them and how they were ac­quired. “Sun In­ter­na­tional was sold by Mr. Hichilema as chief ne­go­tia­tor. The ques­tion, is why did he de­clare in­ter­est and if so why did Gov­ern­ment al­low him to con­tinue rep­re­sent­ing it? How can a ne­go­tia­tor be a share­holder af­ter the trans­ac­tion? The whole pri­vati­sa­tion of Sun In­ter­na­tional and its share­hold­ing is fishy and Gov­ern­ment must re­verse it.,” he said.

Mr Mumbi

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