A red jacket, which became Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s signature clothing during his treason trial in 2017, was sold for an incredible 2.5 million kwacha (about R2 million) at a fundraising dinner in Lusaka.
The ‘Meet and Greet the President’ fundraising dinner at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on Saturday night was hosted by the ruling party, the United Party for National Development (UPND).
The youth league of UPND, on its official Twitter account, said: “At the UPND fundraiser last night, this red jacket our leader often wore (sic) in prison sold for K2.5 million. That’s about $138 000. Many thanks to everyone who came to support the party.”
Opposition leader in April 2017, Hichilema and five of his aides were incarcerated on allegations of endangering then-president Edgar Lungu’s life after his motorcade allegedly refused to give way to the one transporting Lungu.
Hichilema and his aides were released after 100 days in custody when Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland negotiated for the public’s interest in the matter.
Party spokesperson Joseph Kalimbwe told reporters that the money raised from the auction would be used to fund party programmes.
Speaking at the fundraiser, Hichilema, who is currently in South Africa attending the Intra Africa Trade Fair in Durban, said his government would not support rent-seeking behaviour from the Zambian business community.
Media reports in Zambia identified the “big buyer” of the red jacket as Jonathan Khondowe, who has an interest in farming.
Across Africa, there have been many outrageous buys or handing of gifts to the ruling elite by businessmen close to the regimes.
After the coup that dislodged the late Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a few months into office, watched as his red neck tie was snapped up for US$15 000.
It was bought by a businessman, Tafadzwa Musarara, who has interests in maize and wheat.
Before that, during Mugabe’s reign, his wife, Grace, found herself pocketing a cool US$50 000 on her 50th birthday when a prosperity preacher, Walter Magaya, bought a book chronicling her life in pictures.