By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Sat 19 July 2014, 14:01 CAT
ZAMBIANS have lost control of their economy because key investments are foreign owned, says commerce minister Robert Sichinga.
Sichinga said whoever makes investment controls the country's economy.
"The truth of the matter is that we think somebody else should come from a different location and continent to come and invest for us," Sichinga said yesterday during a Madison Financial Services breakfast meeting for potential institutional investors for the upcoming IPO. "That way, we can work for them and happily so while they take the profits. We even have those who go and say 'I am milking US$500 million every year for which I only paid US$25 million and not even fulfilling that."
Sichinga said mining was held as the country's economic stay yet it was wholly controlled by foreigners.
"Right now, you can talk about Zambia being a mining country; who controls the mining sector? If you don't make the investments yourselves, somebody else will fill the vacuum and we the citizenry have lost control," he said. "How much was paid for KCM…US$25 million! Are you telling me that we cannot raise US$25 million? Vedanta, the guys that were selling metals who were not even in mining and this is the major mining operations they are doing. Where are we? We are very fortunate that we have a country that is well endowed with natural resources and yet we have a relatively small population."
Sichinga said investors were not philanthropists.
"They investors come to make money. It's a business deal; it's not to help us; they come to make money," he said. "Why is that most of the investment in the new businesses and trading malls, housing estates…all seem to be coming from outside? Why can't NAPSA, African Life and other Pension Houses build these malls…because whoever makes investment controls your economy?"
Sichinga said Zambia was a rich country with poor citizens.
"The weakness is not in the economy or the blessing that we have; the weakness is in our own minds," he said. "That is where the fault lies. Our friends just across in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Botswana and in South Africa, can come here and invest but we can't go there and invest because we haven't got sufficient resources with which to do that but we are sitting. So, this is a rich country with poor citizens. And, therefore, the concept of setting up Madison Financial Services and other ideas you have are important not only for their symbolism but for what they are able to do."
Sichinga said there was need for Zambians to start supporting indigenous businesses.
"This Madison Financial Services is a local and indigenous company. Many times we think if it is managed by a Zambian, then it is not good enough, just the products we make are not good enough," said Sichinga. "The problem is in our minds. We must buttress one another. When one of us does something good, we must not do the PHD pull him or her down thing. We must learn to support one another. Not for what you can get out of it but…. As citizens of this country, you have a duty and it is necessary that we take those institutions that come before us and support them and here is a good example of a company that is coming to the market and they are offloading 40 per cent."