President Rupiah Banda has said former Finance minister, Ng’andu Magande should not talk about the privatisation of Zamtel because he failed to do anything to save it from collapse when he was in Government.
Mr Banda said in Lusaka yesterday that Mr Magande should not talk about Zamtel because he served as Cabinet minister in charge of Finance for seven years but allegedly did nothing to redeem the telecommunications company.
He was responding to questions from journalists at the Lusaka International Airport upon arrival from Uganda where he attended the Smart Partnership dialogue meeting.
Mr Magande was quoted in yesterday’s edition of The Post saying the Government should not proceed with the privatisation of Zamtel before announcing to the nation the results of the evaluation process conducted by RP Capital Partners.
Mr Banda said it was surprising that Mr Magande who did not make public the evaluation of Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) at the time it was being privatised now wanted the Government to do so with Zamtel.
Mr Banda said Mr Magande, who spearheaded the sale of shares in Zanaco was now against the privatisation of Zamtel, which was faced with the same problems.
“Those who are against the privatisation of Zamtel have been in Government for a long time, they did not do anything about it when the company was bleeding to death,” he said.
Those opposed to the sale of 75 per cent stake in Zamtel were not concerned about the future of the employees at the company.
Mr Banda said now that his administration was in charge, the challenge to save Zamtel from total collapse lay in his hands and he would do everything possible to save it.
“They are not in Government now and the responsibility falls on us now. He (Magande) had a chance for seven years as Finance minister. Mr Magande sold 75 per cent shares of Zanaco and didn’t tell us anything,” he said.
Mr Banda said the Government wanted to grow the economy and one way of doing that was through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
And Chief Government Spokesperson, Ronnie Shikapwasha said the Government would publish the evaluation report of Zamtel by RP Capital Partners.
Lieutenant General Shikapwasha in an interview said once Cabinet finished deliberating on the matter, the public would have access to the documents on the Government website.
Gen Shikapwasha, who is Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, said insinuations that Government officials had deliberately made Zamtel bankrupt so that it was sold to their friends was baseless and malicious.
He said Zamtel required huge sums of money to be recapitalised, which the Government did not have.
Gen Shikapwasha said claims that the Government was deliberately not paying its debt to Zamtel so that it was presented bankrupt was aimed at gaining political mileage.
He said the telecommunications company also owed the Government money.
Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the Government was ready to sell the 75 per cent shares in Zamtel to Zambians as long as they had funds to take over.
He said a good example where the Government had sold a parastatal to Zambians was Copperbelt Energy Corporation, which had proved to work well.
[Times of Zambia]