ACTIONAID Zambia country director Nalucha Ziba says the Office of the President needs to insulate itself from the Industrial Development Corporation as its risks being brought into ridicule in an event of any impropriety or breeches of the law at the corporation.

In response to a press query, Ziba said amending the articles of association which governed IDC was relatively easy as it did not need parliamentary approval.

“IDC was incorporated as a State-Owned Enterprise on 20th January 2014. This was under the Companies Act. IDC is wholly owned by government through the Minister of Finance pursuant to the Minister of Finance (incorporation) Act, Cap 349 of the laws of Zambia which makes the Minister of Finance as a corporation sole for IDC, the composition of the Board is not stipulated in Cap 349 because this applies to all entities where the Minister of Finance holds shares in trust as a corporation sole. The composition of the Board is stipulated in the Articles of Association lodged with PACRA and in the Board Charter. It is in the Articles where the President is stated to be the Chair of the Board,” stated Ziba.

“In terms of operative mechanisms of the IDC under the PF administration IDC was under the office of the President and this was gazetted to that effect. In the UPND administration, according to the the Ministry of Finance website, IDC is under this Ministry of Finance. Therefore, what this entails is that to change the composition of the IDC Board, there is need for a resolution of the shareholders, in this case represented by the Minister of Finance with the approval of the principal – the President to amend the Articles hence Parliament has no role to play in amending Articles of Association that govern IDC. Therefore, it is our considered view that office of the Presidency needs to be insulated as the President should not continue on the previous path of being Board Chair of IDC due to challenges that might arise involving impropriety or breaches of the law. In the event of impropriety or breaches of the law noted by the Auditor General, the President as Board Chair will be brought into ridicule as witnessed before from the 2020 Auditor General report on IDC.”

At his latest press conference recently, President Hakainde Hichilema defended his decision to remain board chairman for the Industrial Development Corporation, saying he found the law in place and he is only following it.

Responding to a question from veteran journalist Frank Mutubila who asked the Head of State to justify his decision to remain IDC board chairman despite his office being too busy, President Hichilema wondered why people never complained about President Lungu being IDC board chairman.

“You did not question those who created those corporate arrangements. No one questioned the previous President why he was chairman of IDC. I never heard anyone question him. So HH is a different animal, he comes in and must be exorcised. Prejudices. I found that situation,” President Hichilema said.

“You should ask me if I agree with it or not. I will tell you in private my views but I found it in as much as I found the Cyber Security Act which I objected against. You ask for my views, I will tell you in privacy. Just like I found the constitutional provisions for by-elections, I do not agree with by-elections because they waste money. So I guess those who want double standards must examine themselves. I have an opinion about that.”

The President said he considered it an act of discipline to allow some things which he didn’t agree with, as a measure of respecting the rule of law.

“I found a lot of things I do not agree with but as a person who respects the law, until the law is changed, I have to do something I do not like. Like by-elections and anything to appeal to remove an officer working against the people of Zambia. I fold my arms, yet I disagree. This is called discipline and respecting the law until laws are changed. I can talk about a country which locks up people for corruption until they talk. If I do that here you will be the first one to criticise me,” said President Hichilema.