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REFLECTION: Mr. Hichilema Must Immediately Stop Misleading The Nation, No Gold Mine Has Been Sold To Foreign Nationals.
Often times, Zambians are referred to as being forgetful and it’s for this reason that we exist to remind those with interest in the manner national matters are handled of how some key political players are nothing but opportunistic scavengers who only care about their personal political ambitions. Being in opposition does not mean one must practice politics of deception. From claiming that ZAFFICO, ZNBC and ZESCO have been sold to the Chinese, Mr. Hichilema has shamelessly shifted to insinuating that Government, through ZCCM-IH, sold a gold mine to foreigners at $2.5m.
Now, hear it from us, no gold mine has been sold to the Sudanese nationals for $2.5m. It’s equally disheartening to notice that while the facts are in public domain over this issue, many have chosen to be misled instead of taking upon themselves to read and understand. They say the definition of stupidity is knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but still believing the lies. So Mr. Hichilema is either stupid or a liar who thinks Zambians are stupid. We would go for the latter in agreeing with What the late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa observed about Mr. Hichilema.
On pages 211-212 of ‘Levy Patrick Mwanawasa: An incentive for posterity’ written by Amos Malupenga and edited by Professor Fackson Banda, the late President says, “The problem Mr. Hichilema has is the fact that he wants to cheat, to mislead, to show that he is what he is not. His understanding of politics is that it doesn’t matter; you can cheat, provided you get your goals!” We challenge Mr. Hichilema to tell Zambians the name of the mine ZCCM-IH has sold to the Sudanese nationals. We know he wants to sound relevant but we equally agree with President Mwanawasa in acknowledging that Mr. Hichilema wants to show that he is what he is not.
So what has really happened? ZCCM-IH has partnered with Karma Mining Services Limited, a company owned by Sudanese Nationals. Initially, Karma had set up a gold processing plant in Rufunsa at a cost of about USD$3.5m, not a gold mining company but gold processing plant. Later, ZCCM-IH took interest in its operations, in line with its mandate, which led to the current partnership with the Sudanese firm. That partnership has been actualised through a special purpose vehicle called the Consolidated Gold Company Zambia Limited (CGCZ).
CGCZ has been granted a Mining Processing Licence in Rufunsa District where the company has approached two (2) Licence holders namely Chembe Gold Mine Limited and Sabi Gold Mine Limited. The mines remain the properties of Chembe Gold Mine and Sabi Gold Mine. The partnership is to use the mineral ore material from these mining companies to process gold. That partnership entails that 65% of the gold will be for CGCZ and 35% for the Licence holders. Currently CGCZ has applied for another Mineral Processing Licence for Mumbwa where the company has approached a licence holder called Array Limited to utilize their mineral ore material.
In other words, both CGCZ and Karma Mining Services are not undertaking any mining of the gold ore material but partnering with existing licence holders. All the gold recovered through this partnership shall all be sold to Bank of Zambia, as per government policy. Even though the law on the declaration of gold as a Strategic Mineral has not yet been concluded, the guarantee of securing the gold from this partnership comes from the contractual obligations of the parties and the directive to ZCCM-IH by Government.
As can be seen from the explanation above, this ZCCM- IH partnership with Karma is for the purpose of establishing gold processing facilities in the two sites namely Rufunsa and Mumbwa. The processing facilities have partnered with 3 existing licence holders out of a total of 3,666 Licences in Zambia. So Mr. Hichilema must prove his ingenuity by raising funds and partner with the remaining 3,663 licence holders instead of issuing misleading statements over the issue he does not fully grasp.
It should be emphasised that Government encourages companies to invest in the mining sector and some have specialised only in processing materials such as Karma Mining Services, the subject of the current debate. There are 39 other companies that have mineral processing licences over tailing dumps and other mine tenements. Government has no objections to partnerships that ensure we increase the gold production because ultimately all the gold from the partnerships must end up with bank of Zambia.
It is very clear that in the absence of a verifiable alternative development agenda that should render the current one obsolete, Mr. Hichilema has chosen to mislead the nation on straight forward national matters knowing that many Zambians would rather be told about important issues instead of reading on their own. What Zambia needs today is mature leadership that must push us in the direction of President Kenneth Kaunda, not those who wish to be puppets of the West whose agenda is nothing but to continue looting from where they left. Away from the usual political rhetoric, President Edgar Lungu is taking right political and economic decisions.
Who has forgotten that Mr. Hichilema, in his limited wisdom, was advocating for a total lockdown when we all knew that Zambia could not economically afford a total lockdown. What, then, is leadership if it’s missing in times of crises? Coronavirus cases in Africa remain lower than in some other parts of the world due to “strong country leadership,” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa said on Thursday. Africa has just 1.5% of the world’s reported cases of COVID-19, and less than 0.1 % of the world’s deaths, according to the UN health agency.
“With strong country leadership and implementation of social and public health measures, cases in Africa remain lower than in some other parts of the world,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti told a joint media briefing with WHO and the World Economic Forum. But back home, the opposition has downplayed the work of the Multisectoral Taskforce On COVID-19. This is not the democracy we need. This misplaced ideology of worshipping individuals over understanding party policies must come to an end. Mr. Hichilema’s future Minister of Finance and other Senior UPND advisors advised the Head of State, President Edgar Lungu, to immediately seek an IMF bailout package. This is the Government in waiting. Have we forgotten so quickly our nasty experience with the IMF? Let’s consult President Kenneth Kaunda over the subject.
“We did not borrow anything from anyone from the beginning of time until 1973 when the oil prices went up and the copper prices went down creating serious foreign exchange shortages. I asked the IMF and the Word Bank for their advice. They wrote back saying: Borrow, because we think copper prices will soon be going up and we think that oil prices will be controlled. That is when Zambia begun to borrow from abroad. By 1985-87, I found out that the World Bank assistance was not helping to improve the situation. We were instead growing poorer, and more indebted; and the debt levels were unsustainable. The IMF and World Bank policies and programmes were not improving the situation.
Africa needs to learn and to understand what IMF and World Bank stand for. I am not blaming the people themselves. But these institutions are victims of the machinations of the powerful nations of this world. When you borrow money, you also have expenses, they call them overheads. A lot of the loans go to pay for overhead costs like costs of administrative staff sent to manage the loans, costs of consultants who come to tell you what you already know, costs of computers and four wheel drive vehicles that do not reduce poverty and so on and so forth. Before you know it, more than 70 or 80 percent of the loan money has gone back to the rich countries whose people are employed to do feasibility studies or work on the projects and the poor country has a high debt burden.”
We want leadership that will once again effectively put money in the hands of Zambians and not foreigners. For this reason, we expected Mr. Hichilema’s advisors to push government to operationalise the newly created ZCCM Gold Company or the Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes programme. Yes sustainable economic engagement away from the current political comedy to win Mr. Hichilema votes from ignorant voters. We doubt that politics of deception can offer this country the much sought after economic emancipation of its people.
Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
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