Outspoken Zambian Voice Executive Director Chilufya Tayali has disclosed that Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe has defaulted on repayment of the K1.5 million loan she got from the from CEEC using a company called Aluworks Industries which she co-owns with her husband Dr. Mupanga Mwanakatwe who is Managing Director for Zamtel.
Speaking at a press briefing held at Lusaka hotel, today, Mr Tayali said that according to the rationale under which CEEC was formed, his organisation didn’t expect people like the Mrs. Mwanakatwe to be part of the beneficiaries because people like her are affluent with all advantages to access money from institutions where our poor cannot go.
Mr Tayali threatened to spill the beans on some prominent figures who dragging their feet in paying back the loans obtained from the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
Below is his full Press Briefing
The Zambian Voice End of Month Press Statement:
26th July, 2015
HIGH COST OF LIVING
Ladies and Gentlemen we would like to express our concern over the ever raising cost of living in our Country at the moment. As you know the majority of our people are poor and they are the most affected by increase in the cost of living.
Though there is no recent survey which has been done to measure our poverty levels but it is common sense that poverty level must be on the increase judging from various economical trends.
While prices of goods and services are going up the income for our people is not increasing mostly because our Country is not benefiting from the global open trade. Inspite of having an advantage on our natural resources such as water, land, favorable climate, minerals, etc, Zambia is not producing much to offload on the local and international market which would give us liquidity as a nation and individuals.
TRADE DEFICIT AND THE KWACHA
Our trade deficit has shapely decreased to more than 200% in the first half of 2015 which is a clear sign that Zambia is not exporting much but importing heavily. This has affected the performance of our Kwacha on the foreign exchange. The Kwacha has depreciated over 30% within the last 2 years making cost of doing business expensive. Any cost on business is passed on to the consumers.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND BORROWING
Our government sings a chorus of infrastructure development which is perceived as the savior to our economic malaise. The Government is so passionate about this that they are borrowing insensately with an assurance that the debt is sustainable looking at growth rate and GDP.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we must caution our government that they are over ambitious and unreflective on these projects.
To start with, these projects are not benefiting Zambians through construction because almost 90% of the construction is being done by foreigners who are externalizing most of the income back to their home Countries. Our people are just employed as laborers and are being paid peanuts.
Ladies and Gentlemen the estimated returns on this infrastructure is exaggerated. For example we have so many high quality roads which were built during the First Republic but very little development have come out along the stretch of the roads or indeed their destination towns. Therefore we doubt some of these roads and buildings being built in haste will bring the expected returns to pay back for the loans.
INCOME COLLECTION AND RISKS
The other issue of serious concern is the unforeseeable circumstances on our projected economic growth. Our Minister of Finance makes pronouncements of expected income of our Country to justify the borrowing and repayment. Unfortunately he does not seem to appreciate the risk of the unforeseeable circumstances.
Currently we have been hit by long hours of load-shedding which has affected production in all sectors. Consequently our projected income will not be realized.
Unknown to the Minister of Finance policies on the Taxes had to be adjusted causing further cut on the expected income.
Such circumstance may come in and cripple our economy to upset the confidence of our government and fail to pay the debts.
Apart from policy inconsistency there is serious inefficiency in collecting Taxes. Collection of Taxes is infective and selective. There are so many companies in this Country which are not paying Taxes and they are not being followed by ZRA because they are either directly or indirectly, owned by politicians or their associates.
Tax collection has become a political venture to vanquish those perceived to be anti-government. Most of us witnessed how The Post Newspaper was harassed over Taxes but today as we speak companies, like Zambezi Portland owes ZRA about K300 million which they are not paying because they are friends to the ruling party through Former President Rupiah Banda.
This environment poses a serious rick on the loans we are contracting and we might find ourselves in more trouble than we are. Greece did not anticipate default on their loans but somehow it happened and the citizens are suffering for it.
We appreciate government and other stakeholders for initiatives such as social cash transfer which is cushioning on the eminent suffering of the most poor. Our full support is with the Minister of community development for rolling out the project in about 72 districts with due diligence.
We also happy with different citizen empowerment projects initiated by Government. However we have a serious concern with some of these initiatives because access to funding is marred in corruption and political patronage, especially youth empowerment fund.
Among the funding initiatives, we are very disappointed with Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) which is an act of parliament with a rationale to promote the empowerment of citizens that have been marginalized or disadvantaged and whose access to economic resources and development capacity has been constrained due to various factors such as race, sex, educational background, status and disability.
It has come to our attention that CEEC disbursed a lot of money to citizens who are in influential positions such as senior government officials and diplomats in foreign missions.
Among such people is Mrs Margret Mwanakatwe who is the Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry (MCTI). Mrs. Mwanakatwe, benefitted from CEEC using a company called Aluworks Industries which she co-owns with her husband Mr. Mupanga Mwanakatwe who is Managing Director for Zamtel.
According to the rationale under which CEEC was formed we don’t expect people like the Mrs. Mwanakatwe being part of the beneficiaries because these people are affluent with all advantages to access money from institutions where our poor cannot go.
To make the matters worse, Mrs. Mwanakatwe has defaulted on repayment of the K1.5 million loan she got.
We also have other people on the list whom we are yet to contact before discuss them in public. For Mrs. Mwanakatwe we wrote to CEEC and copied the letter to her to explain how she got the money meant for the poor and fail to pay back, but to-date we have no explanation.
We would like to exhort all those people who owe these financial institutions meant to help other Zambians to pay back so that such institutions can continue to exist and benefit others. Failure to payback amounts to unfairness to others who are on the waiting list.
Mrs. Margret Mwanakatwe should be leading by example owing to her past position in a reputable Bank and being the line minister of these institutions like CEEC, otherwise it creates conflict of interest.
MALICE AND VILIFICATIONS
Under so many economic challenges, the Country needs to unite and engage on developmental issues instead of peddling malice, vilifications and persecution of other citizens simply because we differ in opinions.
Currently there is so much vilification of certain individuals in the eyes of the general public.
Unfortunately this seed was planted by Former republic Rupiah Banda. Other than arresting people or making them disappear, Mr. Banda has an art of creating malice and propaganda for his opponents in the eyes of the general public.
Mr. Banda launched a vicious campaign to vilify Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito over Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) to portray them as criminals who got a loan from DBZ fraudulently. Today many people talk about the duo like criminals without any other reason but the DBZ loan.
But the hate of Fred M’membe and the fear of Mutembo Nchito’s effective prosecution of corrupt elements, by Mr. Banda sabotaged the survival of Zambian Airways and caused the loss of 250 jobs in the company. To-date the Zambian Airways workers are suffering after losing their jobs and they have not been paid. If Mr. Banda did not act maliciously, maybe these people would still have jobs today.
Unfortunately the hate for M’membe has extended to President Edgar Lungu, because the former did not support the latter. Fred M’membe is today in court for publishing the truth on the alleged corruption of President Lungu’s economic adviser Mr. Kaizer Zulu. It is also highly likely that Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General Ms. Rosewin Wandi might be targeted.
The same malice was unleashed on Dr. Rajan Mahtan whose bank was taken in very suspicious manner and selling it on a song. Criminal charges were brought in by conniving with foreigners to fix Mahtan by Mr. Banda. When President Sata came he investigated the cases and had the Ventriglias deported for externalization of huge sums of money to Italy.
Today Mr. Banda is back in power through President Edgar Lungu the Ventriglias are back and Mahtan is facing criminal charges again.
The problem with all this hate, malice and vilifications is that it distracts the nation from developmental issues.
It must also be noted that the people being maligned, vilified, victimized and persecuted are investors providing a livelihood through employment to a lot of people.
Fred M’membe has employs more than 1000 people under his investment. The Post pays in excess of K5 million per months in Taxes which pays the people in Government including President Lungu and Rupiah Banda.
Mahtan is also one of the largest employers in the Country paying a lot of Taxes to the government.
Our appeal to government and all stakeholders, especially Mr. Rupiah Banda is to focus on issues that will help many suffering Zambians instead of destroying what citizens have worked so hard for.