Friday, January 23, 2009

(DAILY MAIL) MMD chides PF over investors’ about-turn

MMD chides PF over investors’ about-turn

GOVERNMENT has taken a swipe at Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata for discrediting Chinese and Indians investors.

Chief Government spokesperson Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that Mr Sata was making Chinese and Indian investment an issue by preying on the gullible because he believed he could gain political mileage out of it.

“It is strange that Mr Sata who, having rejected Chinese and Indian investors in 2006 presidential elections, but welcomed them during the 2008 campaign, has again rejected their investments without stating what has changed,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said it was ironic that sentiments against Chinese and Indian investors were coming from a national leader at a time mine workers, who were more closely associated with mines owned by the two countries, were full of praise for the two investors.

He said Government would continue inviting local and foreign investment from countries that were willing and had the capacity to invest, including China and India, whose fast growing economies required a lot of materials that Zambia had.

“Many countries in the world, including developed ones, now look to China and India as the two emerging economic giants, for business and investment.

The two countries, as President Banda recently observed, are among the few with financial muscle under the current global financial crisis,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said these countries mostly relied on imported materials and were willing to invest in the exploitation of such goods where they were available.

“Since Zambia has what they need, it is only proper that we take advantage of their financial capacity to develop our mines and other industries,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said it was, therefore, an act of sabotage for national leaders who should be working with Government and local business houses to attract investment from the two countries to discourage such investment and use derogatory language to describe would-be investment partners.

He said when other investors in mining and other fields were laying off workers because of the effects of the global financial crisis, Chinese and Indian mining operators were restrained from doing so.

“It is worth noting that while Zambia invites investors from any part of the world, the investors that Mr Sata prefers have not come forward. Many of the investors now laying off workers or threatening to pull out of Zambia come from Mr Sata’s preferred countries,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said like any other investors, Chinese and Indian investors’ motive was to make a profit, which he said was not a crime.

He said what was of interest to Zambians was whether these investors had the financial and technical capacity to run the mines or other undertakings in which they invested and were willing to obey the laws of Zambia in their operations.

“Investments, be they local or foreign, create business for Zambian suppliers of goods and services and consequently create employment,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said as for Zambian investors, it was the MMD’s policy to attract local entrepreurship in mining and other fields.

He said old and new mine projects were open to local investors, adding that it was Government’s hope that they would come forward and not wait for Mr Sata to speak for them.

Gen. Shikapwasha said Government knew that Zambians had the knowledge and experience to run mines.
He, however, said local investors would be expected to prove their financial capacity as it was not Government’s responsibility to fund them.

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