State House has trashed assertions by United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema that the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industry Corporation (ZAFFICO) has been sold. And chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya has also dispelled media reports that ZAFFICO has been sold to the Chinese.
Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda told journalists yesterday that police should take interest in the alleged utterances by Mr Hichilema because they border on inciting people and xenophobia. “The misinformation has some elements of criminality, but it is up to police to examine and determine whether this public incitement warrants prosecution or not,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Hichilema appeared on a Sun FM radio programme in Ndola last Friday and accused Government of State House trashes HH lies His statement borders on inciting xenophobia – Chanda having sold ZAFFICO to a Chinese investor. The allegation led to protests in some towns on the Copperbelt.
However, Mr Chanda said ZAFFICO has not been sold but it is one of the 33 companies under the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) earmarked for listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE).
“ZAFFICO has not been sold. It is still under the holding of IDC, where the President is the chairman. The President has pronounced that all the 33 companies under IDC will be listed on LuSE over a period of five years,” Mr Chanda said. He said President Edgar Lungu stated during the commissioning of the K20 million pole treatment plant in Kalulushi in February this year that he would support the listing of the company LuSE.
Mr Chanda said there is no grain of truth in the statement by Mr Hichilema.
He said President Lungu has ordered Copperbelt Minister Japhen Mwakalombe to meet ZAFFICO management, Saw Millers Association of Zambia and union representatives to clear false rumours on the matter. And Mr Chanda says the President is happy with the progress on works done so far on the new airport in Ndola.
Meanwhile, Ms Siliya says like other Zambian parastatal companies, ZAFFICO is still under IDC, a state conglomerate. In a statement, Ms Siliya described as “fake news” media reports quoting Mr Hichilema as having said ZAFFICO has been sold. “While Government is comforted by the fact that by now citizens are aware of the opposition’s scheme to create lies to show that the country is being auctioned to the Chinese, it is also aware that a lie repeated several times tends to be believed by some people,” she said.
Ms Siliya assured Zambians that Government will continue to cooperate with the international community and it will not auction national assets.
“President Edgar Lungu’s administration shall not shy away from informing the nation on key national developments because it runs an open and transparent government,” she said. Ms Siliya urged Zambians to treat the latest opposition lies with the contempt they deserve.