By SILUMESI MALUMO
THERE was wild jubilation on the Copperbelt following President Edgar Lungu’s announcement of a commission of inquiry into privatisation irregularities.
The President has been asked to broaden the inquiry to include an investigation into transactions that have enriched a few at the cost of many miners who have wallowed in poverty.
Mr Kenneth Witola, an official for ex-miners said Government should examine:
How Konkola Mine valued at US$1.2 billion was sold at US$25 million and if in fact any money was paid.
Companies owned by Mr Hakainde Hichilema and Mr Valentine Chitalu are running Zambia’s largest pension fund-Saturnia which owns properties belonging to KCM.
How proceeds from the fund have been used over the years.
How Mr Fred M’membe, Mr Mutembo Nchito and Mr Nchima Nchito came to own former Mine Air Service/ Roan Air which was bought by a management buyout.
What happened to RAMCOZ money?
What happened to Ndola Copper Refinery plant and equipment?
Yesterday, President Lungu said a commission of inquiry to look into the privatisation of State-Owned Enterprises will soon be instituted so that those who mismanaged national assets can provide answers to the nation.
The Head of State said the laws of Zambia allowed him to set up a commission of inquiry and was not obliged to consult anybody.
But Mr Lungu said he would consult various stakeholders with vested interest in the privatisation process and those vested with law would advise him what would be the terms of reference for the commission.
President Lungu indicated that the will of the people was supreme and he would ensure that the inquiry was instituted.
He said this yesterday at State House when a consortium of civil society organisations and student unions presented a petition with 40, 000 signatories on the need to set up a commission of inquiry into the privatisation process.
“The will of the people is very supreme, the law allows me to set up an inquiry and I am not obliged to consult anybody but with the voices which have been heard across the country, I will take time to reflect on this matter and make a few consultations.
So I will go and sit with those who are vested with the matter of privatisation and those vested with the law to tell me what will be the terms of reference for the commission. And I think it’s just a matter of time for the commission to be instituted and those found wanting need to provide answers.
Meanwhile, consortium of civil society chairperson, Andrew Ntewewe, appealed to the Head of State to take keen interest in the matter because a number of people were affected.
Mr Ntewewe, who is also Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president said what happened during privatisation was disgraceful.
He said the national assets were sold for a song and others undervalued for those who were entrusted to manage the process to fraudulently benefit.
The YALI chief said the behaviour was unacceptable, illegal and criminal and those who were involved must be probed.
Mr Ntewewe said the cry of the citizens was that the matter at hand needed to be dealt with without fail.
By SILUMESI MALUMO