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Lusaka Golf Club proposed developments welcome but…

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
THE proposed developments at the Lusaka Golf Club (LGC), the country’s premier golf club, are what all the members are looking for-ward to.The proposed developments have been welcomed because of the long-term benefits, as the club will outlive all the members.
In the words of club captain Clive Shamwana, the developments would be fantastic not only for Lusaka but for Zambia both in terms of investment as well as long-term job creation.
The refurbished club will not just be a perfect gift to the next generation but represents an opportunity for long-term sustainability.
This is so because membership has been dwindling, so has the income, hence the need to bring investors on board to partner with the club in mod-ernising it on a build, operate and transfer basis.
Much as the developments are welcome, there is however concern by the members, and genuinely so, on the choice of the developer for the project, a resort comprising two main areas: residential complex and business, leisure and hotel complex connected through interior roads but separated enough to ensure privacy.
The concern is not just about how it will affect people in the surrounding areas, and the golf playing members as a result of changes to the environ-ment, but the concerns raised going into tomorrow’s extraordinary general meeting have everything to do with the upcoming project, whose full information has not been available to members.
This is in view of the club executive having gone ahead to sign a memorandum of understanding with Ex-Investments of Zanzibar to undertake the proposed projects at the club.
Some members feel that Ex-Investments has been single-sourced to do the work when there was allegedly no tender floated.
There is a feeling that there has been no transparency and full disclosure to members, who will be the beneficiaries of the proposed project.
But LGC president Ian Ratnam has parried charges of little-known, or unknown, Ex-Investments.
“This process started several years ago as an open invitation for potential development partners. Finally, we signed with AE7 but their MoU timed out after nine months, so the subcommittee found another offer. We have the same MoU as with the earlier developer but with more guarantees,” Mr Ratnam said.
However, some members still feel that although some information has now been released to members, there is little by way of drawings and/or technical information available unlike AE7.
Ex-Investments has not provided financials other than the written pledge that a “Newco” will provide funds for the course and clubhouse projects of US$158 million and other costs – without any applied supporting information by their consortium, bankers or funders.
Members have taken to the internet to find out who Ex- Investments is and have discovered that the Zanzibari firm claims to be a real estate compa-ny operating in Zambia under the group umbrella of Energy One Power registered in Singapore.
Further, while at the date of LGC signing the MoU with Ex- Investments there was no such company registered at the Patent and Companies Regis-tration Agency (PACRA). The LGC was expected to carry out a rudimentary due diligence on Ex-Investments before signing the MoU.
Some members have further discovered that claims by Ex- Investments to be developing some housing units for the National Housing Authority (NHA) may not be true as this is allegedly not supported by NHA.
Further, claims that Ex- Investments is the holding company of ASCO Constructii, Energy One Power and TC Capital are unsubstantiated and it is not noted at the registrar of companies in Tanzania – according to the handout on Ex-Investments.
There is therefore need for the LGC to form an independent committee outside the executive to start handling issues of the proposed new project.
The independent committee will be tasked with, among other things, to conduct a due diligence on Ex-Investments and other bidders.
This is the position members are expected to adopt at the EGM tomorrow.
Alternatively, the EGM, which is expected to endorse the MoU, may also be deferred until enough due diligence is conducted on Ex- Investments.
There is enough expertise at LGC to re-evaluate the proposed new project so that members clearly define what they want done on the golf course and clubhouse.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.

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