THE PF have transformed the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) into their cash cow as evidenced by the several questionable transactions overseen by the board chairperson President Edgar Lungu, says New Heritage Party president Chishala Kateka.
Commenting on a News Diggers! investigation which revealed that IDC, National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) paid US $44.8 million as consideration for the purchase of a minority stake in a Chinese tile-making company, Kateka observed that President Lungu’s continued stay as board chair influenced its operations to suit the ruling party’s agenda.
She stressed that Zambians would always lose out from the IDC’s transactions because President Lungu remained board chairperson, a situation that created a serious conflict of interest.
“Firstly, can you imagine a Head of State being a board chair? The first thing you should think about is how possible is it that you have a Head of State being a chair of a board? That is the first thing that you should think about. It is irregular as a Head of State. Think about any other country at all; Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) is a board chair of whatever institution, it just doesn’t happen. That should be the first thing that should send you warning bells! This issue was brought out right at the beginning when IDC was formed and we were informed that the chairman of the board will be the Head of State. You should have other people heading the institution as the board [chairman]. So, you have the Head of State, you have some Ministers, why don’t you find some good corporate people to run the institution?” Kateka wondered.
“You see, what normally kills our institutions is the political interference. We have got some people who can run good institutions, who can run the parastatals well. However, the political interference is what kills them because now these people have to do what they are told to do. Look, if your boss tells you that you have to do this, you will because you are worried about your job. Secondly, even the running of the head of that institution (Mateyo Kaluba), he was at director level at the Ministry of Commerce.”
Kateka added that the IDC had joined other parastatal companies in becoming a “cash cow” for the PF government.
“IDC is a tool that is being used to perpetuate what has been happening all along. Before that, if State Insurance was making money, then it would be used; if Zesco is making money, then it would be used. Now, it is IDC, it is as simple as that, which is the cash cow that we can now milk and get as much milk out of it as possible. I dare say I don’t know if it’s towards the election or it is just the order of the day that we do these things. It is very unfair that we do these things,” she said.
She said it was evident that Zambians would never benefit from the IDC’s controversial Marcopolo deal or other transactions due to incessant political interference.
“I have always said that the problem that we have is lack of discipline, that is what is lacking. So, this should not surprise anyone. We have in Zambia over the years, it is not just the PF government, but over the years the lack of transparency of deals being made, it just leaves you with your mouth wide open because you are thinking how did they get into that deal? That is why in the New Heritage Party, we are saying in August, let Zambians win. With government, all the deals we get into or most of the deals we get into, it is Zambians that lose, we are always losing. There is another issue that you may or may not be aware of is in relation to Zambia Airways. I am sure you have read about the Malawian Airlines and Ethopian Airlines and how it is not working out for Malawi. We are about to get into a very similar [deal], yet we know that it is not working out. So, why are we getting into that deal?” wondered Kateka.
“There are a number of issues, which the New Heritage Party wants to bring out to the attention of the public in terms of the plane that is being bought and the deal that we are getting into. It is Zambians that lose yet again, no transparency because people don’t know what is going on. Why do Zambians always have to lose? So, the time has come for Zambians, the New Heritage Party, we are saying let Zambians win, for once, please! #letZambians win! We can’t even wait to get there so that we can put things right. You must expect that when we get into power, there will be massive reforms so that Zambians can begin to get a good deal. Some of these things we just bring themselves as a country, some of these problems we just get into these deals and when things don’t work, we are surprised. I think it is not fair for the Zambian people. We need to look at deals that will make us win.”