Zambia probes white farmers

To that effect there have been some correspondences between State House and the section of the white community in the country comprising tour operators and commercial farmers. A senior government official told The Southern Times that the Zambia Intelligence and Security Services (ZISS) which operates as Office of the President (OP) has “strong” information that the farmers and tour operators have been planning something nasty against the MMD government since March this year. “There is no smoke without fire the farmers and tour operators have been plotting on how to get the MMD government out of power, surprisingly some of them include those from Zimbabwe who have sought refuge in Zambia,” said the government official who opted to remain anonymous. This week State House reacted sharply to legal suit threats by the group which says it will take the matter to court unless government apologises for alleging in a letter that it was aware of such a ploy. One of the named farmers in the letter from State House Guy Scott who is also a politician from the opposition Patriotic Front had it reproduced as an advert and immediately demanded an apology from government failure to which he and his colleagues would institute legal action. The letter from State House dated 3rd April accused Scott and four other whites of having resolved at some meeting that the MMD government be removed from power because it was making their businesses go down in terms of turnover due to the appreciation of the Kwacha against the world’s major currencies and the high taxes introduced in this year’s budget. President Mwanawasa’s Principal Private Secretary Alfred Chipoya charged that during the meeting which was held on March 16 the group agreed they should destabilise the Zambian economy by creating food shortages, civil disobedience and mobilising funds from among the white community for a particular presidential candidate in this year’s elections. “The President is in receipt of information that Dr Guy Scott the secretary general of the Patriotic Front is influencing white commercial farmers and safari operators to work against the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in the run-up to this year’s elections. Dr Scott on 16th March, 2006 is alleged to have organised a luncheon in Lusaka which was attended by yourselves’During the luncheon, you all agreed that the MMD had to be removed from power citing among other reasons the Value Added Tax (VAT) on agricultural inputs, the appreciation of the Kwacha which allegedly has had a negative impact on the farming community and the proposed Empowerment Bill which you contented was not in the interest of whites in Zambia,” wrote Chipoya in his letter addressed to the five. In his letter Chipoya added: “You agreed to do the following to ensure that MMD did not win this year’s elections, that the white community should mobilise funds for Mr. Sata’s campaign and that Mr. Sata should not walk into unworkable alliances with other opposition political parties, create artificial food shortages in Zambia by about August, 2006 by applying three options (a) buy maize and destroy it (b) buy maize, store it or export it or not to buy the commodity (c) to stop the buyers of cotton namely Dunavant and Clark Cotton Companies from purchasing cotton in Eastern Province and Central Province respectively. I have been requested to seek your confirmation that this is what you resolved to do.” The politician named in the letter is Michael Sata who not long ago leaked a forged letter to a private newspaper. The letter was purported to have been written by President Mwanawasa giving orders to the police to clampdown on Patriotic Front supporters, the party he leads. According to Chipoya those in attendance of the March 16 meeting included Guy Scott himself, who is an accomplished farmer and Patriotic Front secretary general, Zambeef managing director Oliver Irwin, Mbeza Safaris managing director Ian Manning, Leopard Ridge Safaris managing director Ross Michelson and Luangwa Crocodile Safaris managing director Ian Asherhood. This week government stood by the letter charging that Scott was now seeking public sympathy and that his intentions of suing the State were futile. “We are not surprised at Dr Guy Scott’s political outbursts on the matter because we are aware that he is merely seeking public sympathy. By publishing the letter, they have merely defamed themselves if as they are implying these allegations are untrue. It is our view that the threat to take legal action is nothing but an attempt to dig gold where there is no Eldorado,” charged David Kombe State House Analyst for Press and Public Relations in a statement released to the media on Tuesday. Kombe said investigations in the matter were still going on and the findings would be released as soon as they were concluded and necessary action taken. He said Mwanasawa’s government was committed to democracy and would not be interested in hushing divergent political views as long as they were done within the precincts of the law.

April 2006
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