FORMER Attorney General Musa Mwenye State Counsel says it is an unnecessary and wasteful undertaking to constitute a commission of inquiry into the privatisation at this time.

Last week, President Edgar Lungu said it was only a matter of time before he constituted a commission of inquiry into privatisation after some students petitioned him to do so.

But in an interview, Mwenye said the country was facing serious economic problems which required urgent attention instead of prioritising a commission of inquiry which was clearly targeted at one Zambian.

“As all of us are now fully aware, our country is in serious economic problems. We are in a recession where our economic growth is in the negative and our economy is expected to shrink by 4% this year. We are also at risk of defaulting on our loans. Our energy sector is in serious disarray and the mining sector is also suffering. The kwacha is now trading at K20 to US$1 and our reserves are very low. Poverty levels are increasing and Covid is wreaking havoc. In addition, corruption levels are at an all-time high while the political will to fight corruption is at an all-time low. With all these challenges that require urgent attention, why would we prioritize a commission of inquiry that is clearly targeted at one Zambian?” asked Mwenye.

“Shouldn’t we be directing our energies and resources at solving the many serious problems that we are facing as a people? A commission of inquiry costs a lot of money and it is a wasteful and unnecessary undertaking at this time. What will this commission unearth that is not contained in the several reports that have been written over the past 20 years concerning privatization? Our leadership should avoid concentrating on matters that do very little to uplift the livelihoods of the Zambian people. Let’s concentrate on things that matter.”

Speaking when he received a petition from students at State House, Thursday, President Lungu announced that he would soon constitute a commission of inquiry into privatisation.

“This matter has been on people’s minds and discussions have been held in various places. I have also had people pushing me on the subject matter. But like I said, the will of the people reigns supreme. Section 2 of the Inquiries Act allows me to set up a commission of inquiry and I am not obliged to consult anybody. But having heard the voices, which have been across the country, north, east, south and west, throughout the country, I will take time to reflect on this matter. And I will make a few consultations. What you have given me is a petition of signatures without giving terms of reference so I will have to sit with those who are versed with the matter of privatisation, historically, and those who are versed with the law to tell me what would be the terms of reference for the commission. Then we move in accordance with what the law provides,” said President Lungu.

“I think it’s a matter of time. We have to put this matter to rest and all those who were in it and are found wanting will have to answer to the people through the law. Whether people were sleeping or not, it doesn’t matter; what is important is justice. The commission will be constituted and all I am looking for are these gentlemen, ministers and others, who are conversant with matters to give you what we could consider to be appropriate terms of reference. And then we begin identifying which citizens can be on this commission. This is the patriotism that we want to see in the young people of this country.”