President Rupiah Banda has done a fantastic job to privatise Zamtel, former president Frederick Chiluba has said. Responding to questions from journalists yesterday after delivering a sermon at Living Waters Ministries in Kitwe, Chiluba described President Banda as a wise man, according to the Post Newspaper
“Nobody in this country had the money to go and bail out Zamtel. Did you want it to close? He has done a fantastic thing; that man is wise. That is the MMD programme he is following. If I was in office, I could have privatised Zamtel maybe five years back,” Chiluba said.
Chiluba said the privatisation programme had saved companies such as the mines in the country from collapse.
“The thing you forget, whether it is deliberate or you do it ignorantly, it’s a crime you commit by ignoring facts. First of all, we were told that if you sell UBZ, people will not be travelling and you joined in that kind of argument, didn’t foresee there was only one UBZ,” Chiluba said. “At one time, it had 2,150 buses. Then it came down to 750, you still said no. It is a people’s bus, it’s a people’s bus and people were not even riding the bus. You know these people they are being sent by foreigners. What is happening? Do you suffer at the bus stations today? You don’t. The mines had stopped providing services to the country, why? Because the technology had become obsolete. The operating costs were very high, the world stopped funding or even loaning ZCCM anything.
“We were going down. When we said we want to privatise, ‘oh Chiluba doesn’t know this’! ‘Oh Chiluba doesn’t know this’! The people today are benefiting, small-scale miners are in operation. The mines have continued, new mines are coming, why? It’s the policy of liberalisation. Liberalisation is allowing the market to operate freely so that those who have the money and they have the acumen they bring in their money, they use their brains and set up the business and Zambians are employed. That, many people thought, was a crazy idea but it was worth it.”
He also said there was no cause for President Banda to be impeached.
Chiluba said the economic downturn that the nation and the world over had gone through had not been created by President Banda.
“Whether it was another president who was elected, this recession was not going to stop,” Chiluba said. “It hasn’t come because of the name Banda, no! It’s taking its turn because we, for instance, in Zambia our economy is highly dependent on the world market. Who buys copper? China, China’s economy has suffered not as much as many others but also their exports have suffered because America where they used to export, America’s market begun to shrink and therefore they were not buying enough. The Chinese economy, the strongest today, is also affected, what about these others which are on the peripheries.”
Chiluba advised politicians to focus on issues and not insults.
“Tell me about issues. Don’t come to tell me about how ugly one politician is, no. Tell me about where you want to drive the country to, what is your vision? Separate vision from ambition,” Chiluba said. “Tell us what we stand to benefit from your leadership and that’s why you say ‘oh Chiluba supports this one’. I will not go to a politician, firstly, who says he’ll not respect the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation because that vision is dead. Secondly, I do not want to support a politician who stands and begins to insult people.”