WE WERE elated to hear the Chief of Investment at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Mr Muchindu Kasongola, say that in 2020, Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited generated about US$25 million in revenue, which is about K530 million, of which US$12 million (K255 million) was profit.
It’s obvious that these figures are not real but they were calculated out of desperation to win public approval because IDC has bought shares in that Marcopolo company. If this were true, we would have said it is great news for our economy. But we can’t sit here and listen to a miracle that, while other companies were folding in 2020, this Chinese company had its profits through the roof.
If what Mr Kasongola was claiming is true, we the people of Zambia demand to see how much tax Marcopolo paid on that US$12 million profit. They have said it themselves that their company is so profitable, so they should not hesitate to declare the taxes they paid to the Treasury in 2020, we want to see.
Unfortunately, we don’t see Marcopolo coming out clean on this because, let’s face it, Mr Kasongola was lying. In fact, a lot of information that the IDC has been giving out on this matter is false, and they know it. Starting from the valuation report to the real reason why they invested all that money in a newly established company is all false. That’s why they are refusing to release the valuation report because they know that it will expose them.
The other lie that came from Mr Kasongola is that: “At the time we began to engage Marcopolo investment, the entity had already completed three, four financial years. So, we started looking at Marcopolo investments in early 2020. I think it’s not necessarily the amount of time that the company has been running for but rather what are the earnings that are actually attributed to that particular investment.”
Which four financial years is Mr Kasongola talking about? How can a company that was commissioned for operation in 2017 make profit for four years yet negotiations for sale of shares took place early in 2020? Is IDC telling us that this company started making millions of dollars in profit on the same day it started operating? And in any case, why would a company that is making that much profit decide to look for investors? Why not reinvest that profit and continue to grow as a private company?
These people at IDC are taking citizens for fools. To lie to people like this without any shame takes a group of people who have really gotten so comfortable in government positions. We can see that these people at IDC feel nothing can happen to them because they are also in charge of the government.
We have stated it several times before that one of the key reasons why President Edgar Lungu’s immunity will be removed is because of the decisions that the Industrial Development Corporation is making under him as Board Chairman. Our argument point on this matter is that since the Head of State is running the Industrial Development Corporation, then there is no oversight institution, let alone individual, to question its dealings; as such, all sorts of criminality is going unchallenged.
Since the President will have no deniability, it will be him to explain why he allowed millions of Zambian taxpayer dollars to go to waste through bogus investments. What is worse is that, almost all the investment ventures that the Industrial Development Corporation is making are being done in the interest of President Lungu’s friends and not the citizens of this country. Through these investments, the IDC is becoming Zambia’s fastest growing liability; yet the people are being fooled by consistent propaganda statements suggesting that the institution is pouring taxpayer’s money in viable investments, when in fact, it going into pockets of private individuals.
IDC was not created to buy as many companies as it can lay hands on, it was created to revamp loss-making parastatal companies and turn them into profitable ventures. How may existing parastatals can IDC claim to have turned into profitable companies since it was established? Zero, as far as we can count. Under Lungu’s IDC, the dying companies have continued on their path towards oblivion. The IDC which is chaired by President Edgar Lungu has its eyes and interests elsewhere.
There is nothing that Mr Kasongola is talking about. We can give him space on our platform to tell his lies in the interest of fair coverage, but we know that he is a dangerous liar who must not be trusted. We insist that this IDC investment into Marcopolo was meant to serve some individuals’ personal interest and not for the better good of the economy. It’s either Mr Kasongola knows this and he is lying deliberately or he is ignorant about what is going on in his institution.
In fact, we would like to end with a few questions for this Kasongola. Is this not the same man who was managing director for Madison Asset Management Company Limited? What investment decisions did he make there where did they end up? How viable were the companies that he invested in and where are they today? Under what circumstances did Mr Kasongola leave Madison Asset Management Company Limited? How did he find himself at IDC?