FDD president Edith Nawakwi has been challenged to explain her involvement with the Canadian businessman Ari Ben-Menashe who swindled Zambia in a bogus maize deal and was also involved in the failed privatization of some mining assets.
PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri has also challenged FDD spokesman Antonio Mwanza to explain if he had asked Ms Nawakwi about Ben-Menashe’s involvement in the botched mines privatization deals, “he should not just talk about things without investigating”.
Ms. Phiri revealed that Carrington Sales owned by an Israeli Ben-Menashe was ordered by a London court to refund Zambia US$10 million from the botched maize deal but that Ms. Nawakwi introduced the same man to the privatization team led by chairman Francis Kaunda.
Mrs. Phiri said Ms Nawakwi, who presents herself as an incorruptible and virtuous person, must explain what role Ari Ben-Menashe played in the failed delivery of maize to Zambia and also his involvement in the failed purchase of mining assets which had to be stopped by President Frederick Chiluba.
Ms. Phiri said the role of Ms Nawakwi in the botched sales of the mines were very well documented in a book published in 2002 by former privatization negotiation chairman, Francis Kaunda, which book has never been challenged.
“That book gives details of the role Ms Nawakwi played and it cannot be said that she is blameless,” she said.
“In all fairness I would like her to explain to the Zambian people what role Ari Ben-Menashe played in the maize deal and in the sale of the mines, both of which were found to be irregular,” Ms Phiri said.
“I would also like Ms Nawakwi to tell the country why she was dismissed as Minister of Finance so that the people of Zambia have an idea of the person who has now come out to criticize and cast aspersions on Edgar Lungu and other people in leadership.
“She must explain if, as the book says, it was not her who brought Carrington Sales Company of Canada with their key man Ari Ben-Menashe to negotiate the sale of the mines which Mr. Francis Kaunda later discovered to have been totally contrived, involving people of dubious character.
According to the book, Ms. Phiri said, Mr. Kaunda and his negotiating team travelled to Canada for a meeting with alleged mining houses organized by Carlington Sales but that when the Zambians investigated the people they were meeting they discoverd that they were not mining houses, but actors who had been paid to do so.
“This book was published in 2002 and Ms Nawakwi has never challenged the facts presented by Mr. Francis Kaunda. Can she explain this to the people of Zambia. Can she explain why Mr. Kaunda refused to sign the mining deals in Canada?
After that can she also explain how Zambia lost millions of dollars paid for maize which was never delivered in a deal brokered by Ben-Manashe of Carrington Sales,” Ms Phiri said.