PF being malicious – HH

By Staff Reporter

THE ruling PF are being malicious by blaming riots on the Copperbelt over the sale ZAFFICO on me, United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema has said.

In an interview with BBC on Sunday following the police call up for ‘investigations’ on Wednesday this week, Hichilema said the Patriotic Front was digressing from the issues of accountability to the Zambian people who were affected by the decision to sell the parastatal company.

“So, there was no way that I could incite anybody by stating what was known by the affected people – the timber traders, the workers of ZAFFICO and their families. This is malice! This is absolutely digressional from the issues which the PF has to account to the public [like] who is going to benefit from the sale of ZAFFICO. What will happen to the whole business of timber transactions in this country?”

Kitwe residents rioted last week upon ‘hearing’ that Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) in Ndola had been sold by the government to a Chinese firm.

The PF and its government quickly coined an assertion that the riot was as a result of Hichilema who, on Ndola’s Sun FM radio, had ‘incited’ those who took to the streets.

Hichilema, who has since been summoned to report himself for investigations at Copperbelt Division headquarters in Ndola on Wednesday, contextualised his commentary on the radio programme.

“I had a radio programme with Sun FM based in Ndola on the 5th of November [2018] and they believed that because I mentioned on that programme that ZAFFICO is being sold and the buyer is the Chinese and that’s what they are alleging could have caused or incited violence,” Hichilema said.

“The truth of the matter is that the PF government itself, way back on the 5th of April 2017, through their Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata, indicated that the government was going to sell ZAFFICO. On the 21st of September 2017, the report of the parliamentary committee on parastatal bodies, which is managed under Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), there was information that IDC would sell, through a listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange and this is clearly in the public domain by now.”

He explained that in August this year, a Chinese firm called Non-Ferrous Mining Company of Africa “went ahead to purchase, as a commencement of the sale process, assets of ZAFFICO, which includes a housing stock” and that the transaction was reported.

“The houses were actually handed over by a government minister. Again, it is in the public domain and the list goes on. Before I appeared on the radio on 5th of November, there were already some riots, some disturbances about the sale of ZAFFICO on the Copperbelt. So, how could I have caused riots if I was on the radio and merely stating that ZAFFICO was being sold when there were disturbances on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of November. It is not possible!” he said, stressing that he could not have provoked anyone to riot because “the people in ZAFFICO, in Kalulushi, in Kitwe already knew about the sale of ZAFFICO way back in 2017,” Hichilema said.

And Hichilema, when asked if at all he had a chat with any ZAFFICO employee or the Corporation’s Union representatives, responded in the negative.

“I never spoke to any worker of ZAFFICO, I never spoke to Union representatives of ZAFFICO,” he said.

He lamented “a new culture under the PF” where anything that went wrong in Zambia was apportioned on him.

“Anything that the PF fails to manage properly, they say it’s HH. When there are exam leakages, they blame HH [and] when there were riots at UNZA they blamed HH. I can assure you [that since] the rains are late, soon they will be blaming HH for the delay in the rains!” mocked Hichilema.