UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the move by government to invest in Marcopolo Tiles company is extravagant, unnecessary and wasteful and only done in a bid to create an opportunity for corruption.
Speaking when he featured on Phoenix FM Let the People Talk programme, Friday, Hichilema said government should focus on investing in sectors like education as opposed to wasting huge sums of money.
“Today I am a sizeable tax payer, my businesses are sizeable taxpayers and all this is because of one investment, which was the best investment, the best inheritance; education. That’s the thinking we want to bring into government and not waste money. When you hear us talk about prudence and not extravagance, this is what we talk about. What government did in Marcopolo is extravagance, it’s wastage, it was unnecessary. the other point I want to make is that when the UPND come, it will invest the right amount of money in whatever we invest in because we will have zero tolerance to corruption, we will not invest millions of dollars in a business that is only worth US$5 million, US$10 million, you will invest US$40 million, are you crazy? What the hell are you doing? They do that because there is an opportunity for corruption because we don’t sing the corruption song, that’s one of the things we will be doing, restoring the institutions of government,” he said.
He said the arguments that former bank of Zambia governor Dr Caleb Fundanga rendered were correct adding that businesses are more efficient when managed by competent people.
“Dr Fundanga opposed the buying of shares in a tile manufacturing company called Marcopolo, I agree with him. Dr Fundanga and I come a long way, remember, we share a profession. The arguments that he rendered there are totally correct. Businesses are more efficient when they are managed by competent people, when they are driven for the correct reasons to grow the business, to create jobs and not to invest tax payer’s money in order to create an opportunity for corruption. That money which was put in that tile company could have been put in another business which could have created new jobs, additional jobs. The money the government invested there, the government is you the people of Zambia, your money which was invested in Marcopolo, if it was invested in another business, a new business, we would have brought in more jobs to attend to the unemployment among the youth and the women, that’s not going to happen, it’s the same jobs that are there,” Hichilema added.
“There could be additional jobs by minimum expansion, the private money was already there, let it create the jobs. If we have extra money, let us use it wisely, how is it that we should use it wisely, we must not drive it into a joint venture with a Sudanese in a gold mining company because Zambians can invest in that gold mine and produce gold and sell it to the Central Bank.”
He further noted that government should have invested in sectors that will create jobs and bring a return that will help pay the country’s debt.
“We must manage our debt, we’re already indebted, this is the same argument which I raised over the Mopani deal. That this government increased the debt which was already overburdened, the country is overburdened by debt, excessive debt…investing in sectors that will create jobs, that will bring more goods and services, that will also give you a return to allow you to pay back the excessive nkongole (debt),” he said.
And Hichilema said that he and the party will not go round dishing out cash as they would rather teach Zambians how to make their own money.
“It’s our duty not to dish out printed cash, K100 here, what we see today, our attitude will be different. Teach the Zambians how to fish, then they will have fish every day. I am not going to go round giving fish because there are millions of Zambians who need fish, who need meat, who need beans, who need kapenta (dried sardines), who need salad (cooking oil), who need salt, what we are going to do with the NMC members is to make sure that by not being corrupt, we will save the money. By not being extravagant and spending money that belongs to the people of Zambia but enjoyed by a small number of people, we will save money and be able to make sure that the price of mealie meal comes down,” he said.
But Hichilema urged Zambians to accept money being dished out by the PF and make sure they do a don’t kubeba when voting.
Ngabamipela utupiya utwakwiba, akulyeni, bakakupasa ndalama bayamba kufolesa because elections yalipafupi, pokani, ni ndalama yanu, ndalama ya mankwala muma clinics, that’s why sibakupasa munkwala mu clinic, bakupasa prescription kuti ukagule munkwala weka. Ndalama ya munkwala ija bapeleka ku election and akufolesa, naimwe musekaseka muimba. Nifuna muzi imba maningi bakakupasa ndalama, muziseka maningi koma muba chaye don’t kubeba, bachenjele. Ndalama mupoke mudye. (When they give you stolen money, eat it, when they dish out money because elections are nearing, collect it, its your money. Money meant for medicines in hospitals, that’s why you are not given medicine in the clinic, they give you prescriptions for you to go and buy medicine when the money for medicines is taken towards elections and they are dishing out while you are rejoicing and singing. I want you to sing very much when they give you money, rejoice but don’t vote for them.),” Hichilema said.
Meanwhile, Hichilema says the success of the UPND general conference is just a sample of what is to come when they form government.
We don’t want to be big headed about the general assembly, for me, people are saying “oh, nice, nice” I say look, you see Zambians now, I have only done a ka dyonko (a sample) and they are celebrating. They haven’t seen anything, wait and see how that small credit office in your market will give you a loan and expand your business and make sure the cost of doing business will be low so that you can make a better margin. That is what is in store; that is what is coming,” said Hichilema.
He however emphasised that the people of Zambia should expect nothing but hard work and diligence from the UPND and its newly elected national management committee members as they have shown at party and will do it at national level.