Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stop extorting money, Lubinda urges Rupiah

Stop extorting money, Lubinda urges Rupiah
By George Chellah
Sat 20 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) spokesperson Given Lubinda yesterday urged President Rupiah Banda and the MMD to stop extorting money and threatening corporate entities because it's criminal.

Commenting on UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema's recent statement that the Presidency was being used to extort money and threaten corporate entities and individual citizens, Lubinda - who is also Kabwata PF member of parliament - warned that extortion is a criminal offence.

"They must stop extorting money from the corporate world. It is criminal. Extortion is a criminal offence! Time is running out. Next year, these people will not have any fear for MMD because they know that MMD is gone," Lubinda said.

"Let them raise funds the same way that all other parties raise funds. They must not extort from private sector. They must not even dip their fingers in the government treasury. They must for once be clean on their fundraising programmes."

Lubinda said it was not correct to intimidate citizens just in order for the MMD to raise funds.

"It is totally obnoxious. It's unacceptable in a democratic country such as ours, a country that espouses the rule of law. The major change is that this government of Rupiah Banda is a government of Rupiah Banda and not a government of laws.

This country is now being run as though it were animal farm where people in the ruling party think that they own the country and everything else owes it to them. We don't owe anything to Mr Rupiah Banda and MMD," Lubinda said.

"This is a hangover of a one-party state mentality. Rupiah Banda and his arch advisor Mr William Banda, his namesake, are both students of a one-party state and that's what Mr Rupiah Banda wants to introduce where even to go into a council market, to have a stand in a council market you have to produce an MMD card, to jump on a bus you have to produce an MMD card."

Lubinda said the current administration was too desperate.

"Mr Rupiah Banda and his government, because of their desperation for money, they have now gone to an extent where they go to private companies, especially foreign companies and threaten them that they will withdraw this and that incentive, they will draw this and that provision unless they give them money," Lubinda said.

"We know this because some of the people they go to are our sponsors and when we go to them, they tell us. They even show us people who have been there to intimidate them and coerce them. We just have to ask Mr Rupiah Banda to be careful because what goes round, comes around."

Lubinda described the emerging trend as frustrating.

"As a matter of fact, this is coming too late because it is not only now that the Rupiah Banda regime has started coercing the corporate sector, the corporate world, the corporate citizens. It is not only now that they have started intimidating them.

And what is very frustrating is that some of Rupiah Banda's ministers have actually in the recent past used the floor of parliament to intimidate corporate citizens, companies and so on that they think are not supporting them," Lubinda said.

"All the Zambian people have to do is to look at the Hansard and they will see that some ministers have actually named some companies and said that those companies are not performing well. The bottom-line is if a private company is handling its contract in a dubious manner what is expected of a reasonable government is to sue such a company.

"But you just hear some ministers standing up and saying the supplier of this is not performing according to the contract, but they keep quiet. They don't take any action. It amounts to harassment, intimidation and coercion."

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