Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) executive director Lewis Mwape says the process of bringing on board partners to invest in Indeni oil refinery should be done consultatively in a transparent and effective manner.
Reacting an announcement by Energy Minister that government was looking for an investor to pump US$600 million into Indeni, Mwape said there was a possibility that the equity partners were the creators of the problems which Indeni was currently facing.
He said the interested partners should be well known corporations or individuals.
“I think lets involve the people. I think by now we have already learnt a lesson in terms of how we are giving away public assets and at the end of it all, it only benefits only those that are in front of it. The ones that are suspiciously giving away public assets. So this time around there is need for citizen participation. So I think we have a lot of people that are in the energy sector that can contribute to those issues. So government needs to involve the citizens as they go about attracting the equity partners to invest in Indeni,” he said.
“Also who are coming on board because you may find that it is the same people they want to privatise and they want to buy. We don’t want the equity partners who creates the crisis, then you yourselves come on board and take over Indeni from the people. Which is also a possibility. And those that want to invest in Indeni must be known corporations, must be known individuals and not those individuals that hide behind the shadows and at the end of it all, you end up giving away Indeni to some cadres who have stolen from the fire tenders,” Mwape said.
Mwape said there was need for the administration in government to ensure that middlemen in the oil procurement and oil supply were removed.
“All along, people have been talking about the cartel in the energy sector especially in the supply of energy in which we have middlemen in the supply of the commodity and every government that comes in and particularly the patriotic front, there was a plan during the Michael Sata’s time to remove the middleman in the supply of energy. So what that means is that government has been losing a lot of money through the procurement of oil And oil products which is suppose to be ploughed back into capitalising of Indeni. We have seen the government not taking a board decision to ensure that the middle men are removed from the procurement of oil so that government gets that maximum benefit out of the process of transportation of oil from Tanzania,” said Mwape.
“I think there is need for the leadership to ensure that the issue of the middlemen is removed from the oil procurement and oil supply processes. Secondly, how are we going to attract the equity partners? I think over the past few years, we have seen how the process of privatisation of public assets was being done. One good example is how did we do the Zamtel? We still have pending cases around Zamtel. I think we need to deal with the process of partnership. Are we going to get the international equity partners or are we going to flout the shares into market so that the Zambian people can buy shares? And in that way we are going to have some form of partnership.”