The Patriotic Front (PF) Facebook page published a post claiming United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema (HH) admitted to owing 235 British Petroleum (BP) pensioners money, through African life Financial Services, a company he has shares in. The post, published on 11th July 2021 makes reference to a statement made by the UPND party spokesperson, Mr Cornelius Mweetwa in an interview on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC). The report further alludes that HH’s failure to pay the pensioners as claimed has consequently had an adverse impact on their livelihoods.
The Fact Checking process has determined as false the claim that Mr Hichilema admitted to owing the pensioners money, through African life Financial Services, a company the post claimed Mr Hichilema has shares in. In a call with iVerify on 16th July 2021, Mr Bryson Hamanzuka the Chief Executive Officer of the company on the confirmed that the company no longer owes any money to the pensioners and to the best of his knowledge, the company is not involved in any active court cases at the moment. Further, Mr Hamanzuka stated that Hakainde Hichilema is no longer a share holder in the company and this can be evidenced by the PACRA legal entity print out of the company. Mr Cornelius Mweetwa clarified to iVerify fact checkers that he was misquoted by the ZNBC reporter, Joshua Jere. He further explained that in accordance with the principle of separate legal entity, HH has no liability over debts owed but all liability is on the company and not to the shareholder linked to it. Considering that the case has evolved from as early as 1999, this fact checking process also considered the most recent judgement by judge A.M Chulu on October 15th 2020, where actuaries were directed to assess how much money African Life Financial Services owed pensioners. We have not confirmed the findings of the actuaries.