Former Lusaka Deputy Mayor Portipher Tembo has appealed to Members of Parliament to take an interest in the sale of the National Resources Development College to Chinese state run firm AVIC International.
Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa on Friday told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee chaired by Kaputa Member of Parliament Nexus N’gonga that the rationale behind the sale of NRDC was due to widespread encroachment.
“Regarding the issue of NRDC, let me state that the Ministry has not sold the NRDC land. What we have done is to fully take stock of the current situation with regard to NRDC and what has emerged overall over that land is that if you recall going back the years, NRDC also had a big piece of land called the ranch, which is now called Obama and has been turned into a compound basically, that was NRDC land. What NRDC has been left with is the one along Great East Road,” Mr Shawa said.
“It wasn’t a sale as such. Having looked and assessed the current situation where infrastructure is dilapidated, even the land on Great East Road, apart from dilapidation of the infrastructure, there has also been an encroachment from Mtendere compound there. In fact, the college said ‘Look, let’s put a wall fence (sic) to make sure that no more land is taken, people were just encroaching and building nearer to the college.”
Mr. Shawa confirmed that the new owners of NRDC, AVIC International, would build a new campus on the 1,160 hectare land given to it by Chief Shakumbila in 2010.
And commenting on the sale of the land, Mr Tembo said selling NRDC land along Great East Road to a Chinese investor and relocating the college to Mumbwa goes to show how we Zambians don’t value land.
Mr Tembo who is also former PF Chawama Ward Councillor said the transaction must be reversed.
“Reverse the sale of NRDC land. Why not sale that Mumbwa land to a Chinese and leave the prime one to Zambians?” he asked.
He added, “Citizens must demand to know what is happening on NRDC college land and Chimbokaila prison land. Our MPs must learn to discuss and interrogate issues that affect Zambians in Parliament. We need MPs to be vocal and speak loudly like the South African Parliament.”
In May 2017, Government and AVIC International Zambia Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the proposed development of a new campus for the Natural Resources Development College.
The agreement was signed by Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya and AVIC International representatives in Lusaka and Ms Siliya said government is committed to improving infrastructure to enable more students enrol in agricultural colleges.
Ms Siliya said the cost of the project and time frame will be determined after AVIC provides government with a proposed design.
She said the college will be constructed on 1,600 hectares of land that government has acquired from Senior Chief Shakumbila of Shibuyunji district.