Privatization Will Be Over Zambians' Dead Bodies,


By Sheikh Chifuwe

The Post (Lusaka)
December 9, 2002

You will have to kill all Zambians before privatising key parastatal companies, declared opposition Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday.

Reacting to International Monetary Fund resident representative Dr. Mark Ellyne's threats that Zambia would not get US $1 billion debt relief under HIPC if Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB) was not privatised, Sata said Zambians had already made up their minds not to sell their companies. Sata said Dr. Ellyne was an intelligent person who should be able to read the mood of the people and the country.

"Zambia has been independent for 38 years and it had not been surviving on HIPC. If Dr. Ellyne has been directed to keep HIPC funds in Washington he can do so, Zambia cannot capitulate to the threats of the United States," he said. Sata wondered why finance minister Emmanuel Kasonde was insisting on privatising ZNCB, Zesco and Zamtel when he was aware of the government position on the matter.

"In this government there is Emmanuel Kasonde, Newstead Zimba, Lupando Mwape and Mwanawasa who were in the Chiluba government and are aware of resistance from government which has continued," Sata said. He accused Kasonde of behaving like an imperialist and capitalist agent who did not care about the lives of Zambians.

Sata said Kasonde could be enjoying his Whisky today but should always remember that millions of people could not afford even a meal. He said they were just exhibiting their incompetence by committing privatisation of parastatal companies as a benchmark for qualifying to the HIPC facility. "When we obtained the HIPC facility, privatisation of the three companies was never a condition," Sata said.

"The Chiluba government fulfilled all the benchmarks that's why the HIPC facility was granted." Sata accused government of fraudulently and incompetently going back to the IMF and World Bank to re-negotiate the conditions for the HIPC because they did not want to have anything to do with what Chiluba left.

He wondered why Kasonde was panicking over the HIPC relief when it was not even benefiting many Zambians who were still wallowing in poverty, illiteracy and disease. Sata advised President Levy Mwanawasa to travel to Zimbabwe to learn national administration from President Robert Mugabe.

He said Zimbabwe had more political and economic differences with the West than Zambia but were managing the country better. "The prices for goods in Zimbabwe are much lower than in Zambia," he said. Sata said President Mugabe had refused to be a blue eyed boy for the British and Americans but were still supporting him and had more facilities in Zimbabwe than Zambia.

He expressed concern at the rate the kwacha was being devalued. Sata called on the labour movement to put heads together and fight the eminent job losses if the three companies were privatised.

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