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Hong Kong firm debuts in Africa with $104m S.African deal
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg (AFP) Nov 05, 2013

Zambia ex-president pleads not guilty to graft
Lusaka (AFP) Nov 05, 2013 - Zambia's embattled ex-president Rupiah Banda pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of illicitly receiving election campaign vehicles from a Chinese-linked construction firm.

Banda, who ruled Zambia between 2008 and 2011, is accused of receiving 10 trucks from the local subsidiaries of China's Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group.

"I understand the charge your honour and I plead not guilty," Banda said after the magistrate read the charge.

The 76-year-old also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of concealing the fact he received the trucks by registering them under the names of family members and a supporter.

It is alleged that the former leader used the vehicles, including Mitsubishi Canters and Fuso Fighters, in his 2011 re-election campaign, which he lost to current president Michael Sata.

Since Sata came to power he has rolled out an anti-corruption drive that has seen senior politicians and diplomats hauled before courts.

But critics accuse him of using the campaign as an excuse to clamp down on critics, including launching a slew of charges against Banda.

The former president has been accused of personally benefiting from a $2.5 million oil deal and has been blocked from leaving the country three times since April.

The trial was set for 26 November and Banda was released on police bond.

Hong Kong property firm Shanghai Zendai took its first venture into the African market on Tuesday with a multi-million dollar deal to develop a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa's commercial hub.

Shanghai Zendai purchased a 1,600-hectare parcel of land in the eastern Johannesburg suburb of Modderfontein for $104 million and plans to redevelop it over the next 15 years into a commercial, residential and light industry hub.

The firm said it selected the plot due to its strategic location between the city's airport and Sandton City financial district, known as the richest square mile in Africa.

"We're looking forward to being part of Africa's emerging success story for many years to come," said Shanghai Zendai's chairman Dai Zhikang in a statement.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed firm purchased the property from AECI Ltd. The area currently houses an explosives factory that opened in the late 1890s to support the gold mines around the city.

The company's investment is a "strong expression of confidence in the local real estate", it said, pledging to stay true to South African architectural aesthetics while embracing the latest green technology.

"It's also a stepping stone should we choose to grow our footprint in South Africa and the rest of Africa," added Dai.

A recent independent study showed that a previously approved spatial development plan for the area, would cost roughly $7.5 billion with a capacity to construct at least 33,000 houses.

Founded 20 years ago, Shanghai Zendai is a private conglomerate involved in equity investment, asset management and real-estate.

It has developed hotels, offices and houses in 12 Chinese cities. Its first overseas project was in 2011 near Auckland in New Zealand.


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