GOVERNMENT has described as demeaning sentiments attributed to United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema that Zambia has failed to attract foreign investment.
Mr Hichilema made the remarks at the Global Investment in Africa Summit in London on Tuesday.
He was quoted as saying that, “A heavy focus on the mining sector and the continual fiddling with the regulation has not only resulted in damaging government’s relations with companies, but has also seen other sectors neglected where investors are actively looking for opportunities, such as tourism, agriculture, retail, finance and telecommunications.”
He also said “Zambia’s tourism potential has been haphazardly marketed and as a result the country has not properly benefited from it”.
Chief government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said Mr Hichilema’s statement is demeaning for the country in as far as attracting investment is concerned.
Mr Kambwili said it is unfortunate that Mr Hichilema used the opportunity to discourage investors to come to Zambia at a forum he should have used to market the country.
“Government finds Mr Hichilema’s remarks callous and totally bereft of facts. And it is very sad that he used the opportunity to discourage investors to come to Zambia,” he said.
Mr Kambwili said Government knows that if investors do not come to Zambia, it is the poor masses that would suffer.
He said the UPND leader’s comments indicate that he has no heart for the country as someone hoping to lead the nation.
Mr Kambwili said Mr Hichilema’s sentiments show that if he were to become President of Zambia, he would just be there to satisfy his ego rather than serving the country.
He said Government has created an enabling environment for business to thrive in the country and that Mr Hichilema has failed to pinpoint laws that are inimical to investment.
Mr Kambwili said Government is not ashamed to have reduced the mine royalty tax from 20 to nine percent to ensure mines survive.
And the minister said over 200 British investors have expressed interest to come to Zambia to explore investment opportunities following Vice-President Inonge Wina’s address at the recently held investment conference in London.
“Contrary to Mr Hichilema’s claim, the Bank of Zambia, the same day he was speaking in London, disclosed that foreign direct investment in Zambia grew from US$1.7 billion in 2013 to US$3.2 billion in 2014 owing to improved investment policy,” he said.
He counselled Mr Hichilema to show patriotism in his sentiments at international forums because that is what true statesmen do.
Mr Kambwili also condemned UPND Mazabuka MP Garry Nkombo for his statement in Parliament that the people of Southern Province have resolved to change Government in next year’s general elections.
And PF vice-chairperson for media and publicity Sunday Chanda said: “If HH was in an examination, he would have terribly failed to cut the grade the same way he has failed to cut the grade lamentably amongst Zambian voters.
“This is because he went beyond the terms of reference of selling Zambia’s investment potential to giving a disjointed bitter account of everything he perceives as wrong with Zambia. Purely out of bitterness.”
Mr Chanda said the next time Mr Hichilma speaks at an international forum on Zambia, he should avoid “careless speech” that would hurt the future of the country.