The Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda speaking people has said he is against the decision to convert the Mansa Batteries factory into a shopping mall.
To pave way for the conversion, the owners of the formerly State-owned company early this month advertised in the area surrounding the factory its intention to auction off movable assets.
Items disposed off during the auction included items such as steel beams and different types of equipment.
Speaking in an interview in Mansa, The Mwata said it was sad to learn of such plans as many people in the province had been keenly waiting for the time the factory would become operational.
The chief said it was unfortunate that a formerly vibrant state-owned enterprise had been stripped of assets and sold.
Can you imagine the audacity of some people
“Can you imagine the audacity of some people? They have been mining manganese illegally without any contribution to the Government treasury.
“Why do they want to create a mall at an already existing piece of infrastructure that was built with public funds? Is land finished?
“There is plenty of empty land that can be developed and turned into a mall. Personally, I am not in support of the plans to turn the factory into a mall. If possible, we would be better off if the factory was revived, he said.
The Mwata said President Edgar Lungu during his recent visit to Luapula had made a bold decision to repossess land that constituted the Kawambwa Tea Estates farms and that was the type of leadership that was needed to sort out the problems that Luapula Province was facing.
Former Luapula Province permanent secretary Alfred Kalumba also said it was unfortunate that plans to turn the factory into mall were advanced.
“It is depressing especially for the people that saw the factory at its peak. It employed so many people here. How many people will be employed at the mall and of what local economic benefit would it create for the locals? he asked
The formerly state-owned factory was privatised and according to sources close to the matter has been sold to a South African company that intends to turn part of it into a named supermarket chain store.
Former Mansa Batteries general manger Charles Kabamba who is chairperson for the chamber of commerce said the association would comment on the matter in due course.