Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says the reported takeover of ZAFFICO by a Chinese entity is not true, saying the government institution plans to float its shares to private buyers, with majority stake under citizen ownership.

“The rumours circulating especially in Kalulushi that ZAFFICO has been sold are false. Plans are underway for the public listing of the company with emphasis to reserve majority shares for citizens. Minister of Lands, Hon Jean Kapata will give more details on the matter,” Siliya stated on her official Twitter page.

Police in Lufwanyama, Friday, fought running battles with ZAFFICO workers following the reported decision by Government to list the company on the share market and a possible sale of the institution.

The ZAFFICO workers and saw millers took to the road and blocked the Lufwanyama-Kalengwa road in protest with burning woods.

Police in full riot gear fought with the workers who were in no compromising mood.

“We wont allow the sale of ZAFFICO. Government is more interested in Chinese money than its own people. They have sold the company and how are we going to survive. We have survived for many years under ZAFFICO. This is bad for us, we won’t allow this,” a worker said.

Copperbelt Commissioner of Police Charity Katanga was unavailable to comment on the matter by press time.

Efforts to get ZAFFICO managing director Frighton Sichone’s phones were switched of.

On October 31, the Saw Millers Association of Zambia president William Bwalya had expressed concern with the developments at ZAFFICO.

“ZAFFICO is a success story of Zambia’s parastatal companies and has continued to record profits and has continued to pay dividends. They are replanting trees and are expanding their spheres of influence. Listing of shares for sale at a stock market is selling of shares. It is reaching our offices that government has picked Chinese to come and buy these shares disregarding the ZAFFICO customers who have been taking their money to this company for more than 20 years making it viable, liquid and flowing. These customers have not been considered in the sale of ZAFFICO,” Bwalya had said.

he charged that government was selling ZAFFICO for cash not to reinvest in ZAFFICO but to use the money elsewhere.

“Whose benefit? Zaffico is not under any threat of liquidation, why is the government rushing to sell the company that is doing well? In this investment, the government will remain with minority shares and the Chinese will hold major shares. Who will then control ZAFFICO with a land ownership of 100,000 hectares. Such vast tract of land must be owned by citizens. The 100,000 hectares will soon have title,” said Bwalya.

“Let government not hide in the name of listing of ZAFFICO shares to the private sector. Let them say the are giving the shares to the Chinese. The private sector means, citizens and foreigners alike. As major customers of ZAFFICO, we do not feel this move is to empower the citizens, it is purely a Chinese connection. We unreservedly ask the members of parliament to look at this issue critically as they discuss this sale. Let Workers Compensation Fund control board also give their position if they have failed to invest in tree plantation with ZAFFICO as earlier planned. We have been singing this song with them and NAPSA for a long time that they invest in trees with ZAFFICO. These institutions have been interested in investing in ZAFFICO. So, Chinese money shouldn’t be that sweet.”