LUSAKA lawyer McQueen Zaza says arresting Hakainde Hichilema will not help resolve the confusion Zambians are in regarding the listing of ZAFFICO. Meanwhile, lands and natural resources minister Jean Kapata has claimed that the government will not allow any foreign to buy shares in ZAFFICO. He says Kapata, not Hichilema, was to blame for the Copperbelt riots. Zaza, who is also a human rights activist, said there was nothing wrong with Hichilema commenting on the listing of ZAFFICO on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.
“Jean Kapata and not HH is to blame for the Copperbelt riots,” he charged.
He said Keith Rowley once observed that, “anytime a government resorts to blaming the opposition for its failure to deliver on their mandate and their responsibilities to the people, it is a clear sign that they have accepted that they have outlived their usefulness.”
“Our government has consistently blamed HH for everything, including the recent Copperbelt riots. There was nothing wrong with him commenting on the listing of ZAFFICO on the Lusaka Stock Exchange. He gave an explanation which had some truth in it and his opinion, whether false or true, pertaining to the asset must be respected,” he said. “It was therefore incumbent on the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to offer an explanation from the government point of view.”
Zaza said having ignored calls from the workers and concerned citizens to explain the listing of ZAFFICO on LuSE, the Kitwe riots should be blamed on Kapata and not Hichilema.
“Instead, the government resolved in keeping mute on the matter and later blamed HH for inciting riots. Nonetheless, I hold the view that listing cannot be selling of an asset until the shares are offered and allotted. In view of the forgoing, the Copperbelt riots should be blamed on Jean Kapata, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. It is her muteness on the matter that made people resort to riots, not HH. My view is premised on the fact that she ignored calls from the workers and concerned citizens to explain the listing of ZAFFICO,” he said. “The minister in this regard acted unprofessional and irresponsible. She should have explained the listing aspect in order to remove the anxieties that the rioters had in the matter. Ministers have a duty to account to the people on behalf of their ministries. The duty to account entails giving information to the citizens on decisions that may or are likely to affect them.”
Zaza said riots in Kitwe broke out two or three days before Hichilema made his opinion on radio.
“Arrogance and apportionment of blame on the opposition is the highest form of disservice to the citizens. Assuming HH indeed incited people on the Copperbelt to riot over ZAFFICO, which view I don’t believe, no one would listen. This is because HH has no command on the Copperbelt but PF. How can the people who didn’t vote for him listen to him this time around? It’s a fallacy of contradiction to think that HH could incite the PF voters on the Copperbelt to turn against their own government, PF,” he said. “This situation is analogous to a happily married couple. Can the husband surely incite people to rise against his own wife? In any event, riots broke out two or three days before HH made his opinion on radio. It is therefore difficult to imagine how he was able to incite riots retrospectively.”
Zaza urged the PF government to take responsibility over the Copperbelt riots.
“PF must simply take responsibility over the riots that took place on the Copperbelt and not blame innocent people who have little or no presence on the Copperbelt compared to them. The truth is that the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources did not do her homework very well. She should have been vigilant in explaining the intention of government in listing ZAFFICO on the Lusaka Stock Exchange,” said Zaza. “Her failure to provide information to the people on the Copperbelt resulted into riots [for] which she must shoulder the blame. She is the one that must be arrested if anything. Arresting HH will not help resolve the confusion the citizens of this country are in with respect to listing ZAFFICO. Learn to take responsibility on your failures at least.”
But Kapata claimed only Zambians would be allowed to buy shares in ZAFFICO.
“All I can say is that listing a company on the stock Exchange does not meat the company is sold or it’s being sold…. All I can say is that government has decided to list this particular company on the stock exchange; first priority should be given to Zambians. Zambians should be the ones to buy shares and not foreigners because if we engage and allow foreigners, we are going to disadvantage Zambians.
So it must be Zambian driven so that…it’s a Zambian company and the owners are Zambians themselves without allowing anybody else from outside Zambia to buy any share,” Kapata said.
She encouraged Zambians to buy shares in ZAFFICO so that it would remain Zambian owned.
“Shares are quite cheap, they are not expensive. When you look at other companies such as Lafarge and others, shares were put on the Stock Exchange and Zambians bought share, you buy what you can afford. If you want to buy one share, you buy one share, if you want two, you buy two…if you want a thousand, you can buy a thousand. We are encouraging the Zambians themselves to be the ones to buy the shares, it doesn’t matter how many shares you buy but what matters is that Zambians must buy those shares,” Kapata said.
“The issue of Chinese does not arise. I have said it must be Zambians to buy, so how then are we mentioning the Chinese in this scenario? We are not allowing any foreigner to buy [ZAFFICO shares]. The Issues of foreigners does not arise. We are talking too much about the Chinese, let’s leave them out of most of the conversations that we have.”
Asked about what appears to be beacons on one of the ZAFFICO forests with Chinese inscriptions that have gone viral, Kapata said: “How can the Chinese go and mark the beacons because beacons are dealt with by the Surveyor General and how does the Chinese come in to do that? All this is just rumour mongering and propaganda; get it from the rightful people so that information is furnished.”
Kapata said people were disseminating too much propaganda to the public. She lamented that some people were bent on sending wrong messages to the citizens without verification.
“People should leave government outside all this, let government perform, do not disturb them but they want to derail government at every stage…when we do good they want to bring us a thousand steps backwards, that we are not going to accept as a PF government and personally I just want to warn all those people that are sending wrong signals, wrong messages to the public that I think the law should visit them, this country is governed by laws and nobody is above the law,” Kapata said.
Meanwhile, Kapata expressed ignorance that last month a Chinese mining company NFCA of Chambeshi bought 612 ZAFFICO houses for sitting tenants from government at $270,000 argued that the houses have not been sold.
But when educated that in fact the houses were handed over to ZAFFICO employees by then Minister of Works and Supply Felix Mutati and Kalulushi member of parliament Kampamba Mulenga, Kapata reluctantly said “All this is just propaganda, is not true, it’s actually not true, its not true Eeeh.”
“It’s not true, I have been to ZAFFICO to visit and the cry of the people, the sitting tenants is that they buy those houses. How can you sell them to the Chinese? All this is not true, no Chinese has been sold a house…how can we sell houses were there are sitting tenants, people have been sitting in those houses for so many years and their demand has been that we sell those houses to them,” said Kapata.