No magic will revive Zambia’s economy, says Magande

NG’ANDU Magande says there is no magic that will revive the country’s economy as government leaders have continued issuing careless statements that are affecting the kwacha’s strength.

Magande, the former finance minister, said President Edgar Lungu and his ministers should know that the strength of any economy is determined by the way political leaders are governing the country.

“Do they think (Levy) Mwanawasa and Magande were doing magic? No, we were just playing the game of governance. There is no magic that will revive the economy of Zambia. When you are governing people, you don’t talk to them like you are governing your own children in the sitting room,” he said in reaction to President Lungu’s threats to Mopani Copper Mines that government will seize the mines if they fail to run them. “When we were there (Cabinet), we did not do any magic. We just decided to be normal human beings dealing with other normal human beings. You need diplomacy. Who ever thought Taiwan would meet with the President of mainland China? Who ever thought that would happen? And with you, you don’t even care, you would rather send condolences to some people who had an accident somewhere and your own people here are morning three Chinese nationals. You say ‘It’s okay, my wife can go there’ even when you are in the area.”

Magande said the business environment in Zambia had now become unpredictable as many investors did not know what to do.

“It is a problem when things become unpredictable because businessmen don’t even know what to do. The truth of the matter is we told these people ‘be civil, use diplomatic language even when you want to be harsh with people’ but when the President is telling everybody ‘you are stupid, you are idiots’, it just shows that there is something wrong somewhere. There is no diplomacy, there is no dialogue. How do you agree with people?” he wondered. “Mopani was having a management meeting recently on whether they should close or not. How does the President just say ‘give me the mines?’ Unless you came from a meeting with them and you say ‘we can’t agree because of this or that and we will take this harsh measure’. How do you tell people your actions before you even meet? For Mopani, I am sure when they saw him in the boardroom, they said ‘what is he discussing when they have already decided?”

Magande also said President Lungu’s statement while on the Copperbelt that the government would not allow Anglo American to come back and invest in the mining sector because they ran away from the country during the global economic crisis was awkward.

“Now if you go to the London Stock Exchange and say, do you know Anglo American? They will ask you ‘which Anglo American?’ And when you tell them ‘the one which was in Zambia’. They will tell you ‘’But we know Anglo American. These are people who are now controlling the diamond businesses. So whatever you are doing in your copper mining, the people that are buying diamonds from Anglo American’s mines in South Africa are the ones  perhaps who are buying your copper and then you will get surprised. Just like in politics, even in business, you never make permanent enemies because the stock exchange, you don’t know who owns shares where. In fact, even our one billion dollar bond, you don’t know how much Anglo American bought of that  dollar, so if you are insulting them, they could even say ‘let us withdraw our money’, and immediately the price of your bond goes up,” said Magande.

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