(By Chambwa Moonga and Oliver Chisenga)
RADICAL Revolutionary Party president Vincent Chaile has asked Zambians to wake up and protect their environment and resources.
And the Democratic Party says the supposed sale of ZAFFICO demonstrates the zeal by the PF government to strip Zambians off their sovereignty.
The government has vehemently denied reports that it has sold ZAFFICO but has indicated that the parastatal is scheduled for listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.
Commenting on the alleged sale of Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO), Chaile urged Zambians to read between the lines because there is no free lunch.
Chinese are here for strictly our mineral resources. All these casinos, shops and restaurants are just used as fronts. Last month a Chinese mining company – NFCA of Chambeshi – bought 612 ZAFFICO houses for sitting tenants from government at $270,000. The houses were handed over to ZAFFICO employees by [then works and supply minister] Felix Mutati and [fisheries and livestock minister] Honourable Kampamba Mulenga, Chaile recalled.
Few days later we saw an advert on Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) website for a tender for provision of transaction advisory services for listing of ZAFFICO on Lusaka Stock Exchange. Could this be a coincidence for a Chinese mining company buying ZAFFICO houses for $270,000 for free and listing of ZAFFICO at the Lusaka stock market? It does not make business sense for government to justify that citizens will have an opportunity to buy shares in ZAFFICO. As an expert in natural resources management, there are no profits in forests as compared to huge capital injection or investment.
He said worldwide, forests were mainly used for environmental conservation, as carbon sinks, to fight against global warming and not for profit making.
Surely, which Zambian can invest into ZAFFICO when the returns are too minimal or nothing in the long run? Which capitalist or a Chinese would plant a tree today and wait for years to harvest? Let truth be told – this is a business conspiracy. It is the Chinese who are interested in the forestry land and not forests itself, Chaile said.
He noted that listing ZAFFICO on LuSE was an easy and quick way the Chinese would acquire ownership and control over the company.
Under those ZAFFICO forests, there is high grade of copper and other minerals. It does not make sense for a mining company to buy houses for forestry employees when their own employees are homeless. Listing ZAFFICO on Lusaka Stock Exchange is an easy and quick way the Chinese would acquire ownership and control over the company, Chaile said. Once they have ownership they will do anything with the land. The Chinese interest is first cut and sell the trees as quickly as possible making Copperbelt a desert and you know the impact it will have on the environment, meaning we will have rain issues in the long run. Secondly, our minerals are not safe.
Chaile urged Zambians to be alert and protect the country’s environment and resources.
Listing ZAFFICO on Lusaka Stock Exchange is as good as privatisation and you know the impact of privatisation. Once the Chinese or whoever has more shares and full control, most of our people will lose jobs adding to already bad statistics of unemployment, said Chaile. By now we all know Zambia has never benefited from privitisations since 1991.We can’t even point at a single toilet built by the mines to benefit the people of Zambia apart from foreigners getting richer and richer. Zambians, let’s wake up and protect our environment and our resources.
And Democratic Party spokesperson Judith Kabemba stated that the PF government still believed it could continue to steal with impunity and mask its theft of ZAFFICO by listing it on LuSE (Lusaka Stock Exchange).
She stated that Zambians treasured ZAFFICO so much that they could not afford to watch, in silence, while sovereignty in the parastatal was being stripped and sold off by a select group of self-seeking individuals filled with insatiable greed.
Why should PF list ZAFFICO after buying the non-performing and non-thriving Zampalm from their friends at $16 million dollars? Why should PF sell ZAFFICO when they are buying the bare land for Mununshi Banana Scheme from their friends at a staggering cost of $2 million? From all this, one can see that PF does not mean well for this country, Kabemba stated in a press statement.
Since the PF is in a hurry to sell properties, let them sell Zampalm and the bare Banana Mununshi Scheme on the LUSE and leave ZAFFICO for the poor people of Zambia. If ZAFFICO needs capital injection, we advise government to get the money they injected in Zampalm into ZAFFICO.
Kabemba added that the bigger tragedy Zambians were facing now was having an insincere government.
These people are operating on a very destructive principal called tufililepo, Kabemba stated.
PF should know that these are not their personal resources. They belong to each one of us and we have a right to demonstrate and protest over our resources when we notice danger.
Kabemba argued that it was also wrong for the government to release the police on citizens who rioted in Kitwe over the alleged ZAFFICO sale on Monday.
Why can’t PF develop a habit of engaging citizens, explaining the queries so that peace prevails rather than police brutality on citizens who only need answers and assurance on their fears? Kabemba asked.
She said DP would remain assertive and say no to living in fear and slavery in our own country.
PF should not take us for granted. Enough is enough! We are alive to the fact that ZAFFICO is a viable business. It is a lifeline for our cultural inheritance as well as our ancestral heritage is in the forests, stated Kabemba.
PF wants to sell our forests so they can continue to reap the Mukula from the forests. ZAFFICO is supporting all the retrenched miners and families in the Copperbelt but PF wants to get the little the Zambians have to benefit themselves. Henceforth, we shall stand fearless with our brothers and sisters on the Copperbelt. We shall not allow PF to sell ZAFFICO. Power should be to the people.