The latest twist in the unfolding confrontation between Zambia’s Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda and the Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote involves the alleged foul play by a local cement competitor and controversial financier, Rajan Mahtani.
Shamenda was recently been served with a lawsuit by Dangote Industries Zambia Ltd (DIZ), who are seeking damages to compensate for false allegations that the company had attempted to bribe the minister.
According to a well placed source, Shamenda is working closely with the Finance Bank Chairman Mahtani in order to disparage and discredit Dangote in order to kill off the expected competition from DIZ’s planned cement plant in Ndola, which is due to come online in November.
The source says that Mahtani, whose disputed ownership of Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) had become his primary income stream, has the most to gain from Dangote being pushed out of the market, and is willing to go to any lengths to battle the Nigerian competitor, including by instructing a minister to operate as his proxy.
DIZ is claiming general damages for slander Shamenda made in the presence of government ministers, union officials and the press.
DIZ is also claiming general damages for libel caused to be published by the defendant in the local media, aggravated damages for slander and libel and special damages in the sum of K112.042.84.
By Evans Mulenga