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Tembo questions IDC investment decisions, calls for inquiry

THE Patriots for Economic Progress is angered and disappointment at the continued lack of corporate governance and transparency in the manner and fashion that the state-owned holding company, the Industrial Development Corporation, has been conducting its business in the recent past.

In a statement yesterday, PeP leader Sean Tembo noted with disappointment that using taxpayers’ money, the IDC has made a number of unsound investments that include the acquisition of a 90 per cent stake in Zampalm Limited, a 76 per cent stake in Superior Milling Limited, a 45 per cent stake in Lusaka Trust Hospital and more recently a part of the acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Wonderful Tiles Limited.

He said each of these acquisitions lacked sound valuation on which they were premised and taxpayers’ money disbursed.

“As Patriots for Economic Progress, our view is that the IDC has now become a conduit for money laundering and a means of siphoning taxpayers’ money whereby anyone that is running an ailing company and has connections to the IDC board chairman, President Edgar Lungu, can arrange to have their company acquired by IDC for a handsome sum of taxpayers’ money, no matter how defunct their company is. We find this totally unacceptable and an affront to the intellect of the Zambian people,” Tembo said.

The PeP leader said there were well-established and strict corporate governance and transparency requirements that needed to be met before taxpayers’ money could be spent.

He maintained that it was unacceptable that the IDC management was spending taxpayers’ money as if they were spending their personal inheritance.

Tembo called upon the Chief Justice Irene Mambilima to consider instituting a Commission of Inquiry to review all the acquisitions that the Industrial Development Corporation had made in the recent past.

He said such a commission of inquiry should focus on issues such as existence and soundness of market valuations for the entities in question and whether citizens paid a fair price for such acquisitions, the existence of conflict of interest whereby some of the companies which IDC acquired were owned by individuals that are members of the Board of Directors of the IDC, and whether any of the IDC officials have directly or indirectly benefited from the apparent inflated purchase prices for stakes in the companies in question.

He said his party found it extremely disheartening that a state-owned company whose Board of Directors was chaired by the Republican President was the one in the forefront failing to demonstrate sound business practices, proper corporate governance and transparency.

“May it be known by every unscrupulous individual who has unduly benefited from these shady transactions whereby the Zambian people are made to pay huge sums in exchange for defunct companies, that the day of reckoning will soon come. The Zambian people are not as naive as they might be perceived,” said Tembo.

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