FORMER BP Zambia (now Puma Zambia Plc) pensioners across the country have started making arrangements to match and camp at UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s residence for allegedly refusing to pay them their benefits amounting to about K22.7 million.
The former BP Zambia pensioners have started mobilising themselves and have vowed that within the next two weeks they would be matching to Mr Hichilema’s residence to protest against his refusal to settle their benefits through the Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited, the company the UPND leader is denying ownership.
Expendito Chipalo, the lead plaintiff for the former BP Zambia pensioners, said the 236 families whose benefits were being held by Mr Hichilema would not rest until their money was paid in full.
He said logistics for transportation of the pensioners, tents, mobile toilets and showers were being sourced to make the pensioners comfortable during the period they would be camped at Mr Hichilema’s residence.
He said in an interview yesterday that Mr Hichilema, as a leader of one of the biggest political parties in the country and one aspiring to lead the country, should own up and accept that he owed these peopletheir money.
Mr Chipalo said arrangements were being made that all former BP Zambia pensioners who were living away from provincial capitals would be provided with financial assistance to travel to the meeting place in the provinces from where they would be picked to come to Lusaka.
He said retirement benefits were the accrued rights for workers and that Mr Hichilema should be ready for the angry pensioners who have been waiting for their money for more than two decades.
Yesterday, the Daily Nation published a matrix of Mr Hichilema’s companies which have formed part of his growing financial empire, including Saturnia Regna Pension Trust in which the UPND leader is said by his policy not to own any shares.
But documents from the Patent and Company Registration Agency (PACRA) have revealed that although Mr Hichilema was not among the named shareholders, his company Africa Life Financial Services was holding the majority shares in Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited.
“We are not going to rest until this money is paid because we have waited for a long time. In case Mr Hichilema believes this is a joke, let him know that we have started mobilising ourselves across the country and we have started receiving support from well-wishers.
‘‘Pension is an accrued right and we worked for the money and made savings through pension funds and we are not going to turn ourselves to by-standers and let people rob us of our money.
‘‘We have started mobilising resources and we want to have mobile toilets, showers, tents and food during the time we will be camping at Mr Hichilema’s house,” Mr Chaipalo said.