7 December 2002

Zambia: I've forgiven Chiluba but I'll never forget, says Mahtani

Lusaka — I have forgiven Chiluba but I will never forget his name, Dr. Rajan Mahtani has said.

In an interview on Thursday evening during a cocktail reception hosted for Professional Insurance Corporation Zambia Limited (PICZ) clients at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel, Dr. Mahtani said just like the late former US president John F. Kennedy once said, "you can forgive your enemies but never forget their names".

"Yes, I have forgiven Chiluba but I will never forget his name," said Dr. Mahtani when asked about Chiluba who once incarcerated him for alleged involvement in the failed 1997 coup plot. He said he had now completely settled down in Zambia.

Dr. Mahtani was in June 1998 arrested and charged with treason for allegedly funding another co-accused, then MMD women's committee chairperson Princess Nakatindi Wina, for her to prepare the overthrow of Chiluba's government through unlawful means. He was released on July 14 the same year after the state entered a nolle prosequi. And addressing PICZ clients and other guests during the cocktail, Dr. Mahtani said the global and local corporate failures in the last few years had resulted in the scrutiny of several corporate organisations, particularly financial institutions. He said with the new government's commitment to pay more attention to agriculture, PICZ would look at the sector as a key factor in the potential growth area of the Zambian economy. Dr. Mahtani said the corporation had as such embarked on the development of products for risk mitigation in the agriculture sector. "We are now working out mechanisms for insuring farm assets, including animals and crops such as maize, tobacco, wheat, and other crops," he said. Dr. Mahtani said the approach was, however, a cautious one, which required careful specialist risk assessments involving experts such as agronomists and meteorologists. He said he was confident that as the entire sector developed, PICZ would work towards designing crop insurance products for small-scale farmers. Dr. Mahtani said PICZ had taken several steps to comply with modern governance ideals for long term survival and profitability. He said from its humble beginnings ten years ago, PICZ had undergone steady growth with present premium levels in excess of K40 billion. He said the corporation had over the years paid out billions of kwacha in insurance claims, pension payouts, taxes, salaries and had cleared substantial reserves for future liabilities.

Dr. Mahtani said to ensure prudent investment of pension funds, a separate and independent pension trust company had been formed. He said PICZ's staff had grown from six to 90 employees, spread across its operating centres in Livingstone, Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe. Dr. Mahtani said the corporation had set its objectives on playing an even bigger role in the Zambian market.

He said several life insurance products had been designed and would soon be officially launched.

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