By Kapya Kaoma
When I first heard that President Hakainde Hichilema had a deal on the Lusaka–Ndola dual Highway at half the cost of what “the dumb” Lungu administration had gotten, I said finally Bally has done it! But wait. The deal meant Zambian Financial institutions lending a Chinese Company about 700 million dollars and allowing the same company to manage the road for 25 years—way beyond the lifetime of the road. I thought it was a joke until Mr. Musokotwane confirmed and defended it! In Ballycountry, “forward” means backwards.
What is the rationale for entertaining this fecal deal? If NAPSA is capable of lending a Chinese company $700 million under the most “capable” and “corrupt free” administration, why shouldn’t President Hichilema consider giving that money to Zambians themselves to build this road? Is Mr. Hichilema insulting us that at 59 years, we’re still not able to build a road using in-house services and resources? Don’t we contract foreign debt because we don’t have the resources? Are we going to die outsourcing every project in Zambia? To our President, we are too ignorant and dumb that we can’t build anything; no wonder the Chinese treat us like dogs. Everything is, “built by the Chinese using Zambian personnel and money,” we should now be identifying every single project. What an insult unless one is insane!
President HH and Mr. Musokotwane are too intelligent to know that we have the Army and are gifted with countless high-end Civil Engineers! We also have so many unemployed youth and diplomatic missions–so why not send our youth to various countries on attachment on road construction and engineering? Why not assemble our Civil Engineers and all Engineering Experts needed in road construction and develop our own team of road engineers, procure equipment to build new roads, and become self-sufficient? Mr. President, that is what national development is all about–it is thinking beyond one road. Use what you have to learn and to do more! Outsiders will come and go–but when we do it ourselves, we will keep doing it over and over! By the way, if we do it ourselves, we will also create new permanent jobs–all these would benefit NAPSA.
Mr. Musokotwane has defended the awarding of the loan to the Chinese company! What he didn’t address, however, is what happens if the Chinese company does not complete the road or goes under? If financial institutions worth billions of dollars can disappear overnight and shareholders’ money with them, what would happen to Zambia should the said company file for bankruptcy? That the company involved is foreign makes it truly risky to our financial security as a nation. We have no way of knowing how long the company will be in business for it to repay the loan. How many foreign companies have come to Zambia and disappeared since 2001? I guess HH and Musokotwane are intelligent enough to notice. The good news is, both Mr. Musokotwane and HH won’t be in power and may not be alive to witness the disaster they are creating for future generations of Zambians! It is immoral and insane to sign a deal which you know you won’t be able to suffer the consequences of your actions.
But we have another problem. The said company is registered in China. Credit worthiness or ratings are the basis for obtaining loans from Banks and financial institutions. It is clear the said company can not procure a loan from China to construct a road in Zambia; a loan linked to a country as opposed to an individual, which means that under any circumstances, the company would recover its money since countries cannot file for bankruptcy under international law. In short, the company can sue Zambia and recover every cent under this contract.
So why should Chinese financial institutions refuse to lend money to this company? Who is better placed to understand the creditworthiness or risks associated with the said company between financial Institutions in China or Zambia where we know little about it? The answer is obvious! Either it’s a high risk company—thus the conditions are hard and interest is too high, or it’s declined. Period! Even in Zambia, NAPSA’s loan approval, is a political decision as opposed to creditworthiness.
It is said that ‘if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.’ Nobody can say for sure what President HH and his cronies seek to gain out of this deal, but knowing how secretive his business dealings have been, Zambia’s interests are not on top of his list!
Bally worshippers may offer incense and sacrifice for this fecal deal, but the truth is, if NAPSA can FINANCE the Project, then we, the Zambians must construct the Highway ourselves. Won’t Bally worshipers be proud to sacrifice to their god for ensuring the construction of the first major Highway by Zambians for Zambians? Indeed, self-proclaimed intelligent economists are only so on their lips, in reality, they are embarrassingly and laughably too insane and insulting to follow!