Thursday, September 06, 2012

(DAILY MAIL ZM) Get railways back – Sata

COMMENT - The PF is getting serious about corruption in the previous privatisation process.

Get railways back – Sata
September 6, 2012

PRESIDENT Sata has directed Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba to use all legal means at his disposal to return Zambia Railways to the rightful owners—the Zambians. “Zambia Railways is the property of Zambians and should be returned through all possible means…that is your (Kabimba) number one task.

”Zambia Railways belongs to us and if we have to go to court let’s go,” President Sata said. Mr Sata feels the concessioning of the railway company to Railway Systems of Zambia in 2000 was marred with corruption.

The President yesterday said the MMD administration surrendered the company to the concessioner through alleged corrupt means, which his PF administration will not tolerate.

He observed that the concession agreement does not state that Zambians are the sole owners of the railway company.

The President said this at State House yesterday when he swore in Mr Kabimba as Justice Minister and Dr Leonard Mulenga as Southern Province permanent secretary.

And in a statement released by his special assist for press and public relations George Chellah yesterday, President Sata instructed Mr Kabimba to examine the Freight and Passenger Concession Agreement between the Government and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) and New Limpopo Bridge Projects Investment Private Limited.

In March 2000, the MMD government decided to concession the freight and passenger services of Zambia Railways to the private sector.

After a bidding process the then Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA) awarded the concession to the Railway Systems of Zambia.

On February 14, 2003, the MMD Government signed a Freight Concession Agreement with RSZ and on August 18, 2003 the Passenger Concession Agreement was signed.

The RSZ took over the operations of Zambia Railways Limited on December 3, 2003.
The concession covered the whole inter-mine railway network on the Copperbelt, as well as the long haul railway network from the Copperbelt to Livingstone.

Mr Sata emphasised the need for Government to look into the Concession Agreement with RSZ, to preserve the national railway infrastructure from further deterioration, given that the company has failed to invest in the railway assets and improve operations.

He said this will allow Government to reposition itself in improving the railway sector which is critical to the country’s economic development.

And Mr Sata has cautioned Mr Kabimba against interfering in the operations of the judiciary.

The President said Mr Kabimba should work with the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that justice prevails for all Zambians.

He also implored the new minister to ensure that the office of district attorney and legal aid be present in every district countrywide.

“So even if a chief is found poaching, he should get legal representation. We know there are some chiefs in Eastern Province who feel they don’t need a permit to hunt because they regard the animals in their chiefdoms as theirs,” he said.

The President also urged Mr Kabimba to address the issue of some chiefs imposed on subjects.

On Dr Mulenga, the President directed the new permanent secretary to ensure that the construction of Livingstone University starts next year.

And Mr Kabimba said in an interview with journalists that he will ensure that the justice system is accepted and affordable by all Zambians.

He said government desires to see a justice system which will bring about social change.

“So as Minister of Justice, I am committed to ensuring that the principles and commitments of the party as enshrined in our manifesto should be fulfilled through a policy framework and legislation that we are going to introduce.

“The other thing I want to make clear on judicial reforms is that we are not going to allow the reforms to be driven by the judiciary, but by the people,” he said.

He said he is not going to interfere in the constitution- making process by imposing his personal opinion on various issues.

Mr Kabimba also said he will maintain the position of secretary-general of the PF as he is a servant of the people.

British-based academic, Prof. Clive Chirwa, on Monday told the Daily Mail that the Zambian government had an opportunity to create one million jobs through railway investment.

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