By Jack Nyoni
By now, few Zambians will not have heard of Lusaka-based businessman Valden Findlay. He has been in and out of the news for many years, accused of being a drug baron by many, including, Kaweche Kaunda, the son of the first President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, and more recently, by National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili.
The latter has claimed that during U.S. court proceedings against drug lord Vicky Goswami, who was extradited to the United States to stand trial. he was said to be in business with Findlay, with whom he had reportedly taken total control of the Sub-Saharan Mandrax business.
Wherever the truth lies, one thing is clear, that he has a substantial, unethical and unhealthy influence over President Lungu.
Findlay is not an elected official, accountable to the people, nor a paid civil servant, who is accountable to the system. He plays outside the system and uses his spuriously obtained means to exert undue influence on Zambia and its people.
In normal times, this would be bad enough, but with the Coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc with our economy we need our government focusing on the needs of the people and not special interests.
The businessman frequently joins the President in meetings and foreign jaunts, costing the taxpayers untold costs, even though his private jet is reportedly bigger, more luxurious and expensive than the presidential plane.
If only a small part of the tales of drugs and gun-running about Findlay were true it should be enough to ensure that he has zero access to State House.
President Lungu has elections next year and before the Coronavirus reached us the economy was not going in a positive direction. The crisis created by the Coronavirus will hurt incumbents across the world and the President and his team have to go into overdrive if they stand any chance of reelection.
They must be supremely focused and get rid of all the chaff.
Findlay is an albatross around the neck of President Lungu and every time he is seen with the head of state Zambians have more and more questions that they will answer at the ballot box.
President Lungu must make an example of Findlay and excise him from public life and demonstrate that he no longer has any influence, effect or impact on the Zambian Government.
Findlay may not be the sum total of Zambia’s problems, but he is highly symbolic of them. He is someone who does not deserve his position close to the President and has never shown once in his long and shadowy career that he has ever contributed to the betterment of the Zambian people.
Some people in his position have a disguise that they do civic or charitable work that helps those in need. Not Findlay, he is so brazen that he never even considers the needs of the people and our country.
President Lungu should demonstrate that he is the man to continue leading the people, and he can start by showing Findlay the door and allow the criminal investigators to look into his past and present, and tell us finally what is true and what is not.
Then he can feel the full force of the law rather than the full protection of the state.