Friday, January 18, 2008
By Bivan Saluseki
Friday January 18, 2008 [03:00]
Chief Puta of the Bwile people in Luapula Province yesterday denied having received a vehicle from DRC's Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi. Chief Puta, who is in Lusaka and using the Toyota Hilux Surf registration number KN 7518 BP, said the vehicle in question was given to him by DRC-based Central African Mining Company and not Katumbi.
"I have papers for it. I have had the vehicle for three months now," chief Puta said. "I am with the same car with papers. You can come and look at them. It was Central African Mining who gave it to me."
Chief Puta said people insinuating that he was given the vehicle by Katumbi merely wanted to create problems between him and President Mwanawasa. He said he had handed over the issue concerning his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Bwile Royal Establishment.
And Bwile Royal Establishment spokesperson Chansa Mutuka said the vehicle was not connected to Katumbi.
"It is just a gift from Central African Mining," he said.
But sources said chief Puta was given the vehicle following his invitation in October to Congo DR by Katumbi for talks concerning exclusive mining agreements in Chiengi district.
Last month Katumbi 'chartered' a plane to ferry chief Puta to Lubumbashi to discuss mining agreements in Chiengi district. According to sources among traditional leaders in Luapula, chief Puta was first invited to the DRC by Katumbi in October last year but only went to meet him in December.
Mines minister Dr Kalombo Mwansa said the government would investigate chief Puta's trip to Congo to find out what Katumbi discussed and agreed with him concerning mining rights in his chiefdom. He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be used to establish the truth since the matter involved a foreign country.