Privatisation inquiry unnecessary – ActionAid

Action Aid Zambia Country Director Nalucha Ziba says there is no need to constitute an inquiry into the privatisation process as it would not yield any positive results.

Speaking when she featured on Money Fm, Thursday, Ziba said instead of constituting an inquiry into the privatisation process, government should focus on managing state assets properly

“There are many reasons why privatisation is allowed such as when public companies become unprofitable or not viable. Looking at the history of privatisation in Zambia, some companies that were privatized include: Zambian Breweries, National milling company, premium oil industries (formerly ROP), to mention but a few. Some companies after being bought off, have gone on to become quite profitable. It was said that some parastals were not economically viable, as such, these were considered for privatisation. The Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA) was the agency in charge of privatisation. There were concerns by some sections of society that privatisation was rushed and that Zambia did not get a better deal out of the process,” Ziba said.

“However, it is now over 20 years and perhaps what’s more important currently is to learn from the process and ensure that we are cautious in managing state assets. There have been some calls to institute more investigation/commission of inquiry into the process. There have been many commissions of inquiry in Zambia that have yielded nothing. Additionally, there are other government agencies already in existence that can institute investigations such as the anti-money laundering team and other security agencies, including the Auditor General’s office, all of which have statutory power to investigate and prosecute economic and financial sabotage crimes,”

And Ziba observed that the privatisation process was marred by corruption because it lacked the involvement of key stakeholders.

“We agree with Mr Peter Sinkamba in article titled “Why we think the proposed inquiry on privatisation is irrelevant.” The previous privatisation process had many flaws: money from the sale of state enterprise was not being paid into the Privatisation Revenue Account (PRA), contrary to the privatisation act; revenue generated from the sale of assets was not used to further economic and social rights of citizens, especially as relates to paying redundancy package schemes, implementing alternative income generating and social projects in the public interest. In addition, the Zambia privatisation Agency board was not balanced as some members from critical sections of society were missing e,g the Law Association of Zambia, the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Bankers Association of Zambia, and the Churches of Zambia. This implied that the process was heavily driven by government without the involvement of key stakeholders. As such, there were transparency issues. Lastly, there were allegations of corruption in the process,” said Ziba.

“To make parastatals profitable and avoid the temptation for privatisation, it’s important that many issues are addressed such as: Parastatals being owed huge sums of money by government for provision of various services, should be paid urgently, employees of these parastatals should be competent and not mere political appointees, these public companies should be run on business model, contracts for senior management in these parastatals should be on performance basis, change of mindset is needed. For example, why should a director in a parastatal that survives on government handouts be driving posh cars bought by the company that is struggling?”

         

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