Ikelengi UPND member of parliament Elija Muchima says all loss making parastatals should be scrapped off because they cannot be allowed to continue operating without recording positive economic benefits.
And Muchima said Parliament should be the one to ratify the appointment of all board members appointed to serve in parastatal institutions to ensure that deserving candidates are picked.
Meanwhile, Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube says it appears the Industrial Decelopment Corporation (IDC) does not have much control to know what is happening in parastatal institutions.
The dual was speaking when they debated a motion to adopt the report of the committee on parastatal bodies in Parliament, Tuesday.
“Most of the parastatals are loss making, why are we keeping them? Today government has no money, it has no resources but on top of that, we are carrying a burden of parastatals. What is behind this secrecy of keeping parastatals running? These parastatals from time immemorial now are making serious losses. The best way is to strike them off. And if they are failing to deliver, who do we look to? It’s the government, it is the government failing. That is market failure where the government is failing to intervene,” Muchima said.
“Some of these parastatals which we are talking about should be completely out of our books. We are talking of Times of Zambia, talk of Daily Mail, ZNBC, these are parastatals which you know for sure that they have no future. One good reason is political interference, second reason is failure to recapitalise and the major reason is the appointment of the board members. These appointments of board members leaves much to be desired. The reason is you don’t look for quality, you look for quantities, you are looking for political supporters. These are the ones sitting on these boards, 54 years of independence, we cannot find quality board members. And we have seen on these boards, the same board member is on ZANACO, is on Indeni, is on… and yet the country has got so many qualified people. And also you look at their political alignment, that is what is killing this country,” Muchima said.
Muchima also suggested that the appointment of board members for all parastatal institutions be subject to ratification by Parliament.
“Let us look at the qualities of the board members you appoint, and this issue of letting the minister, whoever comes in the office has to dismiss the board members and then bring in his or her own board members, that is not correct. The board members in my view, the list should be brought even to Parliament for us to scrutinize because they are serving the interest of the nation [and] not the interest of the party. Now to hear, Mr Speaker, that CEEC failed to provide financial statements, what a shame?! And then how do we measure their performance? CEEC is on record [of] following up clients, those who fail to own up and they have even gone to grab their property when they themselves are failing to own up to the Zambian people. We have institutions which are failures, run by failures but the failure is the government itself which is failing to superintend these institutions. Indeni is a serious corporation. How can it fail to bring financial statements? Where are the issues of corporate governance we are talking about? Mr Speaker, these institutions are meant to provide services to the Zambian people. If they are not able to provide the services, the best way is they should be struck out completely. We need the Bill to review their operations,” he said.
Muchima said the appointment of board members under the PF government was like incest where people were marrying within the same family.
“We want the appointment of board members to be ratified by Parliament. We want to look at their qualifications, we want to know their backgrounds, because these are the ones who are causing problems in these institutions. Don’t use politics to bring business [because noting will work out. You need to look at those who are capable and those who are capable are found in Zambia but the problem is you are only looking into your own house as PF. It is like incest, nobody is fearing incest. You can’t marry within your own house, you can’t do business within your own party. Business should be for every Zambian, do the cross breed. Parastatals in Zambia are a total failure,” he said.
He observed that a number of state companies were not making any profits hence failing to pay most of their outstanding debts.
“We need to see a change, we need only those parastatals that and value to the revenues of this country. We don’t need them actually. If they are not performing, by tomorrow Minister of Finance come and tell us that you have scrapped those institutions or they should tell us when will they start performing. These institutions turn them into private hands [and] you will see how they will turn into profit making institutions. Zesco which used to make money, today it is failing to pay for electricity [which it has consumed from other countries like Mozambique. We have become a shame to other institutions. Pension institutions are suppose to be institutions that invest but the problem is at the moment they are incapacitated. They are unable to perform effectively. We cannot be moving with the same problems from year in-year out,” Muchima said.
Meanwhile, Ngulube said the fact that parastatal companies had continued performing poorly wasa sign that IDC had very little or no control of state institutions despite having been given the mandate to run them.
“It’s worrying that parastatal bodies have continued to be perform poorly in terms of finances, in terms of remittance of dividends and everything like that. I just want to urge the minister responsible for these parastatal bodies to take stern action against these defaulters because when we as a people have given somebody a public institution to run on behalf of everybody else, it is not in order that people can just declare losses, run down the institution at the expense of the public. I am aware Madam Speaker that the IDC now has been given the responsibility to take up all these parastatal bodies but we also have concerns about the IDC itself. It appears, it looks like the IDC does not take so much control to know what is happening in these parastatal bodies. If the IDC were to be serious, it would be very difficult for people to siphon or to run down state institutions,” he said.
Ngulube said mismanagement of public institutions required a serious kind of attention from the executive.
“And in conclusion Madam Speaker, I also want to say unfortunately even the local authorities have joined the queue of parastatals. Right now I am speaking on behalf of my people in Kabwe Central or Kabwe Municipal council. [They have gone for] three months without pay while there is money being taken there or given to them by the Ministry of Local Government. This mismanagement of public institutions Madam Speaker requires a serious kind of attention from the executive. Unless we begin to crack the whip, institutions like the Anti-Corruption Commission should wake up, institutions like the Drug Enforcement Commission should wake up, institutions like the Financial Intelligence Centre should be strengthened so that we can all run this economy knowing that it belongs to all of us,” said Ngulube.