FORMER Bank of Zambia (BOZ) governor Dr Caleb Fundanga says government’s decision to purchase shares in Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited cannot be justified and it’s quite worrisome. The former Central Bank boss adds that he is also shocked to see how some politicians are making huge donations on a daily basis when the country is defaulting on debt servicing.

FUNDANGA: “Some of the things which are happening are quite intriguing. For instance, the private sector, this palm project in Mpika. At the time we hailed it as a good initiative, but we were shocked that government through the IDC wanted to buy it. So in a similar vein, we have seen spending of money in parastatal sectors which cannot be justified in an economy under serious difficulties like we are. Sometimes we hear the government is buying certain investments from the private sector. A clear case recently was the issue of Marcopolo. You cannot justify that this is profitable. If the private sector made a very good investment, why should the government want to buy it from the private sector? Are we fighting against the private sector?”

Governor Fundanga is very right. The purchase of shares in Marcoplolo Tiles by our government institutions was not done in the best interest of the country and its citizens. As Dr Fundanga put it, it is not the duty of government to buy off private sector companies, just because they claim to be viable. Government’s job is to provide an enabling environment in which the private sector can thrive for economic growth and employment creation. Government should not compete or kill the private sector by taking over viable businesses and imposing tariffs. That’s not how an economy is run.

In the case of Marcopolo tiles, it is a transaction premised on lies. State Institutions have broken the law and breached their own investment guidelines. They have lied to the people that the Chinese company had been profitable when in fact not. They lied to the people that the Chinese company has been in existence for longer than five years, when they know that is not true. They have lied that valuation was done and the share price for Marcopolo was a good deal when they know it was a rip off. We have challenged IDC, which is the lead institution in this deal, to produce the valuation report and other documents to support their claims, but they have failed to do so. They know they are lying.

The truth is that this transaction was done to facilitate corruption. A few people in IDC, NAPSA and Marcopolo connived to swindle the government and the rest of the innocent people under those institutions are being made to defend things that they don’t fully understand. The truth of the matter is that the IDC has been turned into a conduit for corruption. One can tell from the investments that the institution is making. Whenever IDC makes an announcement that it has invested in company X, you don’t need to look far and wide to identify the interested parties. People who sit on the board are selling their loss-making private companies to IDC and taking millions of dollars without anyone questioning them.

We want to remind President Edgar Lungu of our editorial comment from a few years back where we warned him that his immunity will be removed because of his role on the Industrial Development Corporation board. Someone will have to answer for the criminality that is going unchecked under IDC, and that person will have to be the chairman of the board which approves these investment decisions. One such transaction that will humiliate President Lungu is the investment in Marcopolo Tiles.

The relationship between our Industrial Development Corporation and the Chinese Company Marcopolo Tiles, is a very dirty one. We can speak with confidence that there are a lot of irregularities which border on criminality. As a matter of fact, the criminality in the Industrial Development Corporation, National Pension Scheme Authority, Workers Compensation Fund Control Board and Marcopolo Tiles is worse than the Ministry of Health drug supply scandal involving Honeybee Pharmacy. This is so because the money involved is more than what has been reported to the public. Apart from that, the people who are connected to this deal have allowed corruption to take shape for their own selfish gain.

Our readers and all citizens of this country must watch this deal very closely because it is smelling corruption and soon, very soon, the truth will be put out for everyone to see. The corrupt will be named and shamed. Our people must take interest to read and remember the explanations that the Industrial Development Corporation is giving over this deal because soon, their lies will no longer stand. We are digging, and so far, the information coming from the four institutions – IDC, NAPSA, Workers Compensation Fund Control Board and Marcopolo itself, shows that crimes have been committed.