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Cops broaden ZAFFICO riots probe

INSPECTOR General of Police Kakoma Kanganja says investigations into the Kitwe riots will not only focus on criminal elements that took part in the riot and looting but will be extended to those that orchestrated the falsehood that led to the disturbance. And Copperbelt minister Japhen Mwakalombe says what is prevailing is that ZAFFICO is not sold “for now”. On his part, ZAFFICO board chairperson Trevor Kaunda said the company is being prepared for listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.

In a statement issued yesterday, Kanganja stated that police were also investigating those who were issuing racial and discriminatory remarks.

“Yesterday (Monday) some parts of Kitwe on the Copperbelt Province experienced riots which happened as a result of falsehood peddled by people with concealed agenda,” he stated.

“Due to the foregoing, I wish to inform members of the public that police have instituted investigations in the matter. These investigations will not only focus on those criminal elements that took part in the riot and looting of two shops belonging to foreign nationals but will be extended to all those that orchestrated the falsehood which led to the disturbance. Police are also investigating those issuing racial and discriminatory remarks which are likely to propagate xenophobic attacks.”

Kanganja warned the public to desist from issuing racial and discriminatory remarks.

“Section 67 of Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia criminalises any act of publishing false news whether orally or in writing or any statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb public peace. Further, section 70 of the same Act prohibits any person from expressing or showing hatred, ridicule or contempt for persons on the basis of their race, tribe, place of origin or colour. I am sending a warning to members of the public, political parties and any other grouping to desist from such criminal acts,” he stated.

Kanganja stated that the conduct by those behind the riots in Kitwe would not be condoned by police and that all those that had a hand in it would face the wrath of the law.

“Members of the public are further advised to always verify any information before taking any action and should always follow the legally laid down procedures before doing so,” stated Kanganja.

And addressing the media at ZAFFICO head office in Ndola, Kaunda said stories that the company was sold were untrue.

“The Board and Management of ZAFFICO wishes to inform the general public and reiterate the statement made by the shareholders, IDC, that ZAFFICO has not been sold to any investors, foreign or local. Any information that is circulating to the contrary is untrue and malicious,” he said. “ZAFFICO is being prepared for listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE), a move that will give all Zambians, which includes ZAFFICO employees and customers, an opportunity to buy shares and become part owners of the company.”

Kaunda said the government, through the Industrial Development Corporation, would retain control of the company by holding a majority stake. He said the remaining shares would be floated on LuSE.

“The process prior to listing will be transparent and shall involve among others the following: independent valuation of the company, securing of statutory approvals, issuance of the prospectus to investors, roadshows to market ZAFFICO and placement of the shares on the stock exchange,” Kaunda explained.

He said management would use public meetings to enhance transparency.

“During the whole process, management will undertake consultative meetings with the public on a regular basis so as to enhance transparency in the whole transaction,” Kaunda said.

“One of the benefits to the ZAFFICO listing is that Zambians, including all ZAFFICO stakeholders, will have an opportunity to own shares and have a say in the running of the company. Furthermore, it will enable ZAFFICO to raise cheaper finance for business growth,” Kaunda said.

“As a business, ZAFFICO needs to grow. It needs to establish new tree plantations in order to be self-sufficient for long-term profitability. If this is not done, in future ZAFFICO will not have any trees and the country may have to import timber for its construction industries. Therefore, it is imperative for ZAFFICO to raise cheaper finance to fund its recently acquired tracts of land for forest expansion. This will ensure that jobs will be preserved and created in the process.”

Kaunda said listing on LuSE was not new in the IDC group of companies.

“ZCCM – IH is listed on two stock exchange, namely LuSE and the Euronext (French Stock Exchange). This has helped the company to be vibrant, adhere to corporate governance and declare dividends,” said Kaunda. “This is the ultimate goal of all other SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) in the IDC Group of Companies. We, therefore, appeal to ZAFFICO clients, employees and the general public to ignore unsubstantiated comments and statements regarding the listing of ZAFFICO.”

Earlier when Kaunda called on Mwakalombe at his office, the Copperbelt minister repeated the government position that ZAFFICO had not been sold.

“The most important thing to understand is that before a public entity is sold, there’s procedure. For now, we have not started anything. For now, what is important is that ZAFFICO is not sold. What is prevailing is that ZAFFICO is not sold for now,” said Mwakalombe.

On Monday, a riot in Kitwe over the alleged sale of ZAFFICO resulted in 101 arrests.

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