VICE-President Inonge Wina says government has not yet decided on which mode of action to use in dealing with the involvement of public figures in the privatisation process.

And Vice-President Wina says President Edgar Lungu has not failed to run the economy of this country following the abrupt dismissal of former Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor Dr Denny Kalyalya last month.

Vice-President Wina was speaking in Parliament during the Vice-President Question Time, Friday, after Muchinga MMD member of parliament Howard Kunda asked her if government was considering constituting a commission of inquiry into the privatisation of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

“Your Honour, the Vice President, there have been a lot of discussions and talks about the privatisation of our companies that belonged to government. I would like to find out from you as to whether you can indicate to this nation, through this August House, whether government is considering to set up a commission of inquiry into privatization, bearing in mind that this is a national issue that the Zambian people have been discussing that they have lost or they had lost money that belonged to them,” Kunda asked.

In response, Vice-President Wina said the privatisation topic was a national issue, which was still being debated on.

“Mr Speaker, indeed, this is a national issue that is being debated all over the country because Zambians want to know what transpired during the privatisation exercise. The Privatization Act Chapter 386 of the Laws of Zambia was enacted by Parliament through Act 21 of 1992. And it was amended in 1994 and 1996. The Privatisation Act was to provide for the privatisation and commercialisation of State-Owned Enterprises to provide for an establishment of the Zambia Privatisation Agency and to define the functions of the agency, to provide for the sale of shares in State-owned Enterprises. Mr Speaker, again in Section 26 of the Privatisation Act, the Act provided that political leaders and public officers should publicly disclose their intention to bid for the purchase of shares in State-Owned Enterprises,” Vice-President Wina responded.

She said the negotiating team of the process needed to act professionally and should have disclosed any personal interests before carrying out the assignment.

“And as regard to the involvement of some public figures in the privatisation process, the Act had a provision under Section 32, which guided the process for public figures as stated below. This section provided that the Zambia Privatisation Agency would appoint an independent negotiating team for each sale and that a person appointed on the team was required to have proper professional qualifications, experience and good business standing. The person also needed to disclose any personal or professional interest before accepting the appointment. Therefore, the negotiating team needed to have ensured professionalism and disclose any personal or professional interests as they carried out their assignments,” Vice-President Wina added.

But she announced that government had still not yet decided on which mode of moving forward to probe the privatisation saga.

“Mr Speaker, members of the negotiating team were also required and expected to uphold high standards of integrity, transparency and professionalism since they were dealing with public assets. Disclosure of personal interest was, therefore, a legal requirement. So, Mr Speaker, the people of Zambia are still debating this matter and they want their government to find a solution that will put an end to this public discussion. And government has not yet decided on the mode of moving forward regarding this matter. But when the time is right, government will take action to address this very important issue that has left parts of this country in poverty, that has left many Zambians in destitution [and] that is why Zambians are very keen to know the outcomes,” Vice-President Wina said.

And Itezhi-tezhi UPND member of parliament Herbert Shabula asked Vice-President Wina to explain why President Lungu fired Dr Kalyalya as Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor last month.

“Your Honour, the Vice-President, dismissal of the Bank of Zambia governor Dr Denny Kalyalya came to us as a surprise! And the reason that was given was not clear and we are trying to guess whether he failed to manage the economy or whatever it is. However, what is surprising is that Dr Kalyalya had two supervisors; namely, the President himself and the Minister of Finance (Dr Bwalya Ng’andu). And now we see Dr Kalyalya being dismissed for failure to manage the institution. And later on, the President admitted by saying, ‘now, he will manage the economy.’ The question is, is this clear admittance that the President and the Finance Minister have lamentably failed to run this nation? Is he accepting?” Shabula asked.

However, Vice-President Wina insisted that President Lungu had not failed to run the economy, but avoided shedding further light on the matter.

“Mr Speaker, let me assure the country that the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has not failed to run the economy of this country. And as for the appointment of the Central Bank governor, that is a prerogative of the President. I cannot say much more on that issue,” she replied.

On another topic, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu mockingly congratulated the PF for scooping the Mwansabombwe and Lukashya parliamentary constituencies, saying: “I would like to congratulate the PF, Mr Speaker, for having been in Mwansabombwe and Lukashya constituencies campaigning and whilst they were away campaigning, the economy collapsed! Congratulations for collapsing the economy, while you were busy campaigning!”

The Monze Central UPND member of parliament then asked Vice-President Wina why there was still no substantive US Ambassador to Zambia following the controversial recalling of Daniel Foote late last year, even after the Zambian government had assured that there was nothing wrong with the relationship between the two countries.

“I just wanted to find out with Her Honour, the Vice-President last time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told us that there was nothing wrong with the relationship between Zambia and the United States of America when the Ambassador was recalled. I just want to find out from Her Honour, the Vice President, as to what has happened considering that most of the time, when an Ambassador of America is recalled, they appoint another Ambassador. From the time he was recalled, America has not appointed any Ambassador to Zambia. Is the relationship still strong as it used to be?” wondered Mwiimbu.

Vice-President Wina responded saying:

“Mr Speaker, the relationship between the Government of the United States and Zambia is extremely strong and very cordial. Mr Speaker, it was only last month that our Ambassador to the United States (Lazarous Kapambwe) was accredited and received at the White House by President (Donald) Trump. The fact that the (US) Ambassador has not arrived in Zambia is in the hands of the American government. And perhaps what we don’t know is because of the restricted movements of persons under this COVID-19. We are not privy to the arrangements that the American government is currently making. But for all I know, the relationship between the two countries is very secure and strong.”

And when asked by Roan National Democratic Congress (NDC) member of parliament Joseph Chishala if it was legal for Konkola Copper Mines’ (KCM) employees to be quarantined for over a month, Vice-President Wina said government would only take action once it was aware of where the said miners were being quarantined.