By Staff Reporters
A scam in which National Pensions and Savings Authority (NAPSA) has allegedly colluded with a local businessman to buy his Baobab land at an inflated price at the instigation of senior State House officials has been unearthed.
According to sources, Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde-Simukoko has refused to sign the deal after NAPSA director general Yollard Kachinda wrote a letter, seeking approval to buy the Baobab land from a named Lusaka based businessman of Asian origin.
“It is an astonishing land scam. When it (deal) was brought for approval, Honourable Simukoko questioned the price at which NAPSA intends to purchase the land. It is obvious that the price is inflated to benefit some individuals even if it prime land,” said a source at Ministry of Labour. “It is surprising that the same Baobab land was offered to this Indian man almost at a give-away and he wants to sell it back to government through NAPSA at an inflated price. It is not reasonable to buy land even if it is Baobab, for such an amount.”
Government sources revealed that the named Lusaka businessman initially asked for US$ 41.5 million adding that the prices was reduced to US$ 36 million after some negotiations. But when it was taken to Ministry labour for approval as provided for by the law, Simukoko reportedly rejected the deal.
According to sources, Kachinda was at pains to explain the justification for the planned deal because Simukoko raised serious issues relating to the price.
The sources also revealed that Kachinda was under pressure from some senior State House officials who were interested in the deal, to buy the Baobab land without delay, hence, his push for the Ministry of Labour to expedite the approval.
“We are aware that NAPSA director general is under pressure from some senior State House officials who are part of the deal. But this is a stinking deal…it is stinking with corruption,” said a source. “It is good that Honourable Simukoko is very alert and blocked it, but our fear is that she might succumb to the pressure more so that it involves State House.”
According to sources at NAPSA, the negotiations for the purchase of the land had raised some serious dust among some NAPSA staff because the authority had in the recent past lost monies through dubious investments.
The NAPSA sources disclosed that the purchase of the Baobab land was meant for infrastructure investment and development.
“But when you look at some of the infrastructure developments undertaken by NAPSA, it is total wastage of people’s contributions. NAPSA is currently failing to sell many of its houses built using people’s contributions,” said a source. “The process of arriving at a decision to purchase Baobab land is questionable.”