Party of National Unity (PNU) leader Highvie Hamududu says the government’s decision to repossess majority shareholding in Zamtel which was held by Libya’s LapGreen Networks was a mistake.
And Hamududu has asked the government to restore market confidence or the kwacha will keep depreciating against major convertibles.
In an interview, Hamududu advised the government to partially privatize the main parastatals which he said were just serving the interests of bureaucrats, adding that LapGreen should have been left to own majority shareholding in Zamtel.
“…partial privatization of the main parastatals which are just serving the interests of bureaucrats [must be done], and a decision must be made. Look at Zanaco! If Zanaco was not partially privatized by the [Levy] Mwanawasa regime, it could have collapsed now because of intra trading and political patronage. Even Zamtel, if PF had an issue with the investor LapGreen, they should have just discussed and not to chase them. That was a mistake. Zamtel today could have been the biggest mobile company. With all the infrastructure, they are beaten by these companies which just own a house as a headquarter. That’s how they start here; they came with a briefcase. MTN, Airtel what do they have? How can they challenge Zamtel? How much dividend is Zamtel giving to you to take your children to school? Then check how much profit MTN and Airtel are making for their shareholders who are just individuals. This is a mistake,” Hamududu said.
He advised that the next viable projects to be undertaken by government should be done under Public Private Partnership (PP).
“..because that’s why Zambians pay tolls. That money must not go into government coffers where it is not used properly; it must be used to refinance, to pay back the money which was borrowed for these projects and like that, we shall leave the budget clean. The Minister of Finance shall have enough money to invest in the critical sectors that include all the people and you can’t leave anyone behind,” Hamududu said.
Meanwhile, the opposition leader, who is also an economist, advised the government to give confidence to the market or risk the kwacha being knocked down by speculators who are afraid of things worsening in the country’s economy.
“So really, we are not seeing any action. I can tell you I am afraid, we are not seeing any action from government which gives us the comfort that something is being done, that it will reverse this tide in the depreciation of the kwacha, there is nothing. At least from what we are reading and from what we are seeing, statements coming from government, there is nothing, unless they are hiding somewhere but there is nothing for public consumption and that itself scares the market. The government must give the confidence to the market that they will be doing something or that they are doing something drastic to reverse the tide. But to just continue business as usual, because eventually, this kwacha can be knocked down by the speculators who are afraid that things will be worse tomorrow and quickly begin to chase the dollar to protect themselves which will continue worsening the exchange rate,” Hamududu said.
“As the government is implementing the 2020 budget, because now parliament is approving the budget, it must be accompanied by these radical measures. So they have an opportunity as they enter January. If January, February, March, we don’t see any moves, then we are in trouble. So the government now must go on retreat and think again, they cannot continue business as usual. If it means also collapsing some of these ministries and remain with even 15 ministers, we can do that. We have too many ministries but there is no strength of policy. The solution lies in the private sector, not in having a lot of departments and ministries and strong policies that are facilitating growth of the economy with the private sector that has the money, which will create the jobs.”
And the former UPND member of parliament has said it is unjustified that people should still be crying for nshima when the country should be talking about having meat on the table.
“So basically, even when you have enough mealie meal, people are malnourished because they are eating unbalanced diet. This economy is too small, the population is so small, and the economy is enough to feed everybody. We are a small population with so many resources…It is unjustified for our people to suffer with all these possibilities, enough rains, rich soils, minerals, waters, what don’t we have in this country? What is going on in this country and has been going on for many years is economic injustice against the majority of our people. How can people can be crying for nshima? By now, Zambia should be talking about having meat on the table, fish on the table, they are talking about carbohydrates, that’s how backward we are,” Hamududu said.
Meanwhile, Hamududu has said the government should put concessions on national parks for the tourism sector in the country to grow.
“Look at the national parks! These parks must be put on concessions. Give these national parks to people of international repute. Concession is a part of PPPs, you know the Liuwa National Park? It is under concession and what is happening there is that it is the only national park where the animal population is swelling. Go to Kafue National park, there is encroachment, people are just going there, building farms in the park! People are poaching; this huge resource which is bigger than Belgium is adding more value to our country. Concession is not failing, it’s to give a player on terms, we can create the jobs our people want. Now the ministers are busy going round the country promoting tourism. What are they promoting when there are no products here apart from Victoria Falls? The government is not creating the attractive products for tourists to come,” said Hamududu.
“So we need these products to be attractive. The Kasaba Bay tourism project is not kicking off because government has no money. They abandoned the construction of the Kasaba Bay airport, give the private sector; there is no accommodation right now on Kasaba Bay. Why can’t you give concessions to the private [players] and they will bring money and create jobs in this country?”