January 28, 2003

ZAMBIA: Parastatals to remain in public hands

President Mwanawasa on Saturday, January 25, announced that the three parastatals Zesco, Zamtel and Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB) would remain in public hands and that he had since written the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund inviting them to discuss the issue so that government could explain its decision. President Mwanawasa said the entities would remain in public hands because they offered valuable services to the people which private owners could not offer. Various civil society organisation protested against the sale of the three strategic public companies.

Zambian opposition party UPND has welcomed the decision. UPND publicity and information chairman Patrick Chisanga January 27 said people's power must continue to triumph. Chisanga commended the government for responding positively to the demands of the people. He said ZNCB should be restructured to ensure its operations conform to principles of sound corporate governance in terms of transparency, accountability and probity. "In particular, the management and the board of directors of ZNCB should be empowered to resist political interference in their decision making process," Chisanga said. "The bank should be allowed to operate on sound banking principles and avoid making any political expedient decisions." Chisanga said UPND recommended for a significant percentage of the bank's shares to be floated on the Lusaka Stock exchange to enable indigenous Zambians to buy shares. "Such a move would have two important benefits. First, the concept of the people's bank will have been strengthened by way of ordinary Zambians actually owning a part of their bank," said Chisanga. (The Post, Lusaka)

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