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Finding Findlay: Why Zambians are asking about President Lungu’s close friend

We have seen him in the company of President Edgar Lungu. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice. But a million times. He has been seen in pictures. Several pictures. Today, he would be exiting the presidential jet which Zambians are still paying for through kaloba from the Israelis and the Russians. Tomorrow, he would be seen accompanying President Lungu to Mfuwe, then Kenya, then Swaziland, and then Tokyo. The gentleman even managed to appear in pictures with Prince Harry. Obviously, this gentleman has found a way to work for the government of Zambia or President Lungu using the back door. They are obviously very close friends. When NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili raised some questions about Valden Findlay, Zambians agreed with these questions.

President Lungu is entitled to have friends. In fact, a President without friends cannot rule a country appropriately. But Findlay does not appear to be a friend. He appears to be closer than just a friend. In my estimation, a presidential friend is one whom the President would meet occasionally. Maybe for a drink – for a little kachasu (this is illegal, I understand), or for katubi. He would be a friend the President can confide in here and there. But the moment a friend becomes a constant feature on the presidential entourages and official government trips; that friend ceases to be a friend. He becomes more than a friend and should be considered either a government worker or a presidential worker. On that basis, Mr Findlay should now be regarded as a government worker; and, must be subjected to the scrutiny the good people of Zambia grant to all those who work under their dime or ngwee.

President Lungu is, colloquially, “state property”. At least that is how the “system” as Dickson Jere calls it in his book, would look at President Lungu. Those who work for President Lungu are supposed to be vetted by our country’s security services. However, there is no provision for vetting informal presidential friends. That being the case, it should concern the “system” that an unvetted friend would have so much unfettered access to the President. Mr Findlay has so much unrestricted access to the President which should worry any right-thinking security establishment – mainly that he has no accountability to the security services and certainly no accountability to the people of Zambia.

We then must ask ourselves – what is he doing with the President? We have been told that Mr Findlay is a wealthy person. Some even have suggested to us that he is so wealthy as to have a bigger and better jet. That is the point. Why should a wealthy businessperson be seen in the company of the President 24/7? If he is a businessman; we ask the question is Mr Findlay conducting his own personal business while in the company of President Lungu? Is he using his personal presidential connections to advance his activities? Is he peddling the presidency for profit? Influence has value.

I do not take this argument that Findlay is justified to be with the President because he is already wealthy and would need nothing much from the President. He is appearing with the President incessantly, and the people have legitimate questions and concerns. What is Mr Findlay doing with President Lungu?

I cannot possibly agree with those alleging that he is a drug dealer. Or that the Americans are investigating him for drugs and other crimes. We call upon the presidency to dispel these rumours. Since Mr Findlay has been seen a million times with the President; the Lungu administration must address these unfounded allegations. Is Mr Findlay clean? Or better still, does this gentleman deal in drugs?

President Lungu wants us to believe that he is a straight-up kind of guy who is extremely humble. The people of Zambia deserve answers about the company he is keeping. It is not enough to say, “uyu munandi”. The President must clearly address this issue.

Who knows? Maybe the reason why ubunga is so expensive is because of Valden Findlay. If we cannot blame the weather for kaloba, ubunga, insala, and general leadership confusion – we can perhaps blame the President’s friends. What are friends for?

The author can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com

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