A Movement for Multiparty Democracy member Prince Ndoyi says recent remarks by Economic Association of Zambia President Lubinda Haabazoka (EAZ) to have the mines nationalised without compensation are not only perplexing but mind boggling coming from a convener of the forth coming National Economic Summit on Economic Diplomacy.
Ndoyi noted that the rantings of the EAZ president are in contradiction with what he hopes to achieve at the Summit which begins on Wednesday in tourist capital Livingstone in Southern Province.
He wondered how Haabazoka will attract investment to the country when in the same breath he is advocating for the nationalisation of mines.
Ndoyi advised Haabazoka to avoid what he termed as careless attention seeking with misleading statements but instead issue objective statements reflecting the neutrality of the economic body.
“To start with, statements like the one he made are misleading and a direct contradiction to what the summit hopes as outcomes of the summit or for lack of better term what he hopes to achieve.
“Careless attention seeking statements are not welcome at this point, hence the need for the EAZ to remain objective and a neutral player in safeguarding the economy from further deteriorating. Recently the EAZ President has made statements that have left the Zambians awash on numerous economic matters,” he said.
He urged the outspoken president to avoid dramatic statements so as to ensure the success of the summit as well as improve the investment profile of the country and attract the much needed investment.
“A good initiative such as this one to hold a Summit to headline as a platform for Economic Diplomacy will unfortunately be crowded by dramatic statements and incoherent assumptions being made by the President of EAZ which is unfortunate. This summit is a first of its kind second to the last Economic Indaba held during MMD government under President Rupiah Banda’s administration, which should be handled with maturity and devoid of unnecessary speculations if we are to talk about foreign direct investment.
“This summit has the potential to create a genuine conversation about our economy amidst the current social distress affecting the ordinary citizens. Commodity prices have skyrocketed and the daily needs food basket has been negatively affected thereby increasing hardship among our people. Loadshedding and increased prices for mealie-meal, sugar and cooking oil. We have a drought and the agriculture sector needs a miracle, so let’s stay sober minded,” he said.
And Ndoyi accused the EAZ president of behaving like a political cadre saying an economic expert with his full senses cannot be advocating for nationalisation of mines in a free market era.
He added that Haabazoka like many Zambians are fully aware of the abuse that goes on in parastatals.
“Now back to the statement, surely in this free market era an economic expert talking of nationalizing mines and in the same breath also talking about promoting Zambia through the National Economic Summit as to attract foreign investment is mindboggling! Who on earth would want to invest and then have their investment nationalized? Zambia risk losing assets abroad.
“And governments all over Africa including the Zambian ones have a well known track record regarding their management of parastatals which speaks for itself. Today, we hear of issues at ZESCO, then how dare we then say anything about government taking over the mines. Why are people forgetting that a lot of capital needs to go into underground mines or is it simply a matter of not knowing? The mines definitely would not be spared from the perpetual mismanagement of funds that we hear,” he said.
He said the professional advise Habaazoka should be giving as a representative of an association of professionals on the economy, is one centered on what sort of an investor the country would want to take over KCM bearing in mind the economic history and experiences the country has had with investors in the mining sector.
“What we are looking for in an investor, is an investor who will be ready to comply with paying fair taxes. An investor who will pay cost reflective electricity tariffs without subsidisation. Currently they are buying from the independent power producers at 12cents and selling at 6cents. An investor who will pay good salaries to workers. An investor who is going to award contractual and supply jobs to Zambians. Just to mention a few.”