By Elias Munshya
Our concern for the viability of our country is what drives us. It is never to be malicious. But to believe that our country can be and do better. We find no pleasure in assailing this President and his clueless cabinet. However, if we are to inspire development among our people, we must challenge him and his people to do justice and invest in systems that will develop this country. We have expressed our concerns variously. But it appears like the more we write and talk, the more fortified this President gets in doing the wrong things. There is no commitment to principle or common sense. It is chipantepante par excellence. Government systems are all firing in all different directions, contradicting each other, and doing a dose of bad manners. What are we to make of all this? Remain quiet and pretend as if everything is alright? No way. Speaking, we must speak out. If not for the President to know that he is headed the wrong direction, then to put it on record that Zambia did not fail for lack of ideas. It failed because we had a leadership that chose to run government affairs like a headless chicken – simpering across the yard, dotting the floor with little sprinkles of blood and forsaken feathers.
When a government lacks principles – anything and everything goes. What swallows principles in the Lungu government is the penchant and appetite for theft and corruption. When corruption begins to rule the day, even straight forward things become extremely complicated. Corruption makes digging of gold in Mwinilunga to be a complicated exercise. Corruption complicates everything. This desire to steal steals from our collective resolve our ability to solve problems.
This then brings us to the Konkola Copper Mines saga. When ZCCM-IH went to a judge at midnight to liquidate KCM, we were told that the government of Zambia wanted to chase away Vedanta Resources, so that the mine can make a lot of money for the people of Zambia. We called the government’s actions for what it was – it was an act of total corruption. There was no interest on the part of the government to resolve problems at Konkola. The only thing that this PF government saw at Konkola was the opportunity to steal. In no time, ZCCM-IH appointed PF aligned lawyers to be the liquidators of KCM. With that comes millions of dollars paycheck. We knew that KCM had been making losses for reasons that are beyond this article. However, armed with this knowledge, the PF aligned lawyers saw KCM as the cash cow, and so they quickly went for liquidation. This liquidation was a bit strange, though. They told us that it was not really a liquidation, but a way to recapitalize the mines. They even deceived us that the liquidator had started to dismantle the debt that KCM had. It was all a lie. The windfall of millions they promised was nowhere to be had. It was all a fluke. The only people who emerged winners are the PF aligned lawyers and their party. The Zambian people lost.
One of the debts the liquidators claimed they were going to dismantle was the debt that KCM was owing to the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC). You see, when corrupt governments want to take over a company, they begin manufacturing lies. The first lie regarding CEC was to make the false claim that somehow CEC was exploiting ZESCO. We all know that the biggest culprit that exploits ZESCO is the PF government. The PF party itself has several of its operatives on the payroll of ZESCO. The ZESCO board has several PF party operatives masquerading as sensible people. If indeed, the PF government wanted sense to prevail at ZESCO, one would think that it will begin with putting the PF house in order. But no. The PF party went into overdrive and created lies about CEC and its arrangement with ZESCO and KCM. The PF party claimed that it had taken a keen interest in the contractual agreement between CEC and KCM, including the debt that KCM was owing to CEC. The PF party’s keen interest in this CEC and KCM arrangement was just for one reason – to corruptly absolve KCM of its debt to CEC and to intimidate CEC in the process.
The result now is sad. The Minister of Energy, Honourable Matthew Nkhuwa, has announced that the government through the Energy Regulation Board will take over CEC’s cables and transformers. The supplier of electricity to Konkola will no longer be CEC, but ZESCO using CEC infrastructure. This has never happened in the history of Zambia. ZESCO has never been a direct supplier of power to the mines for many reasons, including common sense. How can a company that load-sheds the nation from six to six be entrusted with supplying critical power to the mining companies? How can a company that cannot plan a single civilian use of power, be assigned to keep mines running? ZESCO can produce electricity, but it cannot by itself distribute that power to the mines. Even during the Kaunda regime, ZCCM had a completely separate Power Division responsible for powering the mines. It was not ZESCO’s role. But not now. The PF party has seen this as an opportunity to steal, to extend ZESCO’s incapability, and to cover up KCM (in liquidation)’s indebtedness to CEC.
But what is even more concerning over the PF’s treatment of CEC is that it is a local company. It has various local shareholders, including private individuals, Zambian parastatals and the general public. It is an indigenous initiative. But we understand that one of the CEC shareholders is an opposition leader. And for that reason, CEC must die or must be killed, or the PF must use some way to frustrate its subsistence. Nothing matters for the PF. Business does not matter at all. All that matters is that its mafias have enough channels to steal from the Zambian people. And as that is happening, an aloof president is busy trotting all over Zambia covering his mouth with a mask. It is the new normal he is calling it. But we all know, it is the new normal of theft and corruption.
The author, Elias Munshya, can be reached at email@example.com