MMD president Nevers Mumba says up to today the former ruling party does not believe government is the best businessman there is in town.
Commenting on the transaction in which the government through ZCCM-IH has purchased back 90 per cent Glencore shareholding in Mopani for US$1 with $1.5 billion, among other conditions, Mumba noted that the government had no option but to repossess the mine.
Mumba advised the government not to be tempted to run Mopani but start transferring it back in to private hands.
“And when I say private hands, I am not talking about foreigners. Zambia has some of the most qualified mining engineers right now…that’s our business, that’s our forte. Other countries have agriculture as their main thing, others have technology as their main thing, like Israel, we do have copper mining as our forte. We can’t be beaten in that area and so those countries that produce copper around the world have a lot of Zambians serving there, why? Because we have trained personnel that are useful around the globe,” he said. “So because of that, we are urging government to put in place a process that starts to empower Zambians to come together, to create those companies that can run these mines and if we need any specialty, any kind of technology that we don’t have, we can always invite someone from outside the country who has that technology, to come and bring their technology but we are running the show.”
Mumba said time has come for Zambia to run its own business.
He said what would be wrong was for government to continue to want to run the mining asset owing to the bad history of the PF or another government for that matter.
“Political pressure, if you take for instance Zesco, it’s a very formidable company but there is too much politics involved in it that it retards its productivity and efficiency and that’s the problem with government and if we take that to the mines, we are going to be destroying an asset that can do so much good to our country,” he said.
Mumba said every eye was on the PF government to see whether they would blow it or preserve the national asset in dignity and without corruption.
He maintained that the policy position of the MMD has always been that the private sector does better in running business.
“When we became government in 1991, we found UNIP doing business as a government and we immediately decided that we wanted the private sector to do business and that is why privatisation begun and ensured that we transferred parastatal organisations or companies from the hands of government into private hands,” he said.
Mumba, however, expressed disappointment over how the privatisation process was carried out.
“The idea was fantastic. It was a great policy position. It still is our policy position as MMD up to this day that government must not be the one doing business but the private sector to become the backbone of economic growth. However, we didn’t do well in privatisation,” said Mumba. “A number of people took advantage of it, abused it and stole millions of dollars of the Zambian people. We leave that in the hands of agencies that are tasked to ensure that anybody that took the money that belongs to Zambians fraudulently is taken to book.”