An opposition political party in Zambia on Thursday said it would hand back a state-run telecommunications firm back to Libyan investors if it won next year’s general elections following reports that the firm was facing operational changes.
Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Yamfwa Mukanga said over the weekend that the government will go to the international market to borrow funds to recapitalize Zamtel which was currently facing liquidity problems.
The Zambian minister said the government intends to borrow 300 million U.S. dollars for the recapitalization of the state-run telecommunication firm in order to make it more viable and competitive.
The telecommunication firm was sold to Libya’s Lap Green Networks in 2010 but the government of late President Michael Sata repossessed it in 2012 on grounds that it was illegally sold.
But Nevers Mumba, leader of the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) which sold the firm to the Libyan investors, said his administration will hand over the telecommunication firm back to the Libyans.
He said it was unfortunate that the telecommunication firm was currently making losses when the Libyan firm had turned it around and made it profitable within a year, adding that the company’s annual financial reports indicate that it never made any profits since 2012 when it was nationalized.
The opposition leader, who is also former Zambian vie-president, wondered how the current government managed to destroy the company within a short period of time and blamed it on the appointment of incompetent people to run it.
His government, he said, will invite the Libyan firm back into the country provided the company dropped current court cases where it has sued the Zambian government for repossessing the telecommunication firm.
The Libyan firm has sued the Zambian government over the repossession of Zamtel and the case is in a United Kingdom (UK) court because the Zambia court that first presided over the case ruled that it should be heard in the UK since it was considered neutral ground.
The Libyan company owned a 75 percent share of Zamtel while the Zambian government owned the remaining 25 percent. Enditem