Category: Opinions

Hichilema must address the cost ot living before it’s too late

Hichilema must address the cost ot living before it’s too late Featured

We welcome the bold, confident and honest observation from the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) on the cries of the general public regarding the continued increase in the cost of living in the country.

Last week, CCZ General Secretary Fr Joseph Chikoya issued a statement in which he said, among other things, that the 15 percent price increase of fuel will adversely affect the most vulnerable, especially low-income citizens, who are already grappling with the high cost of essential commodities, such as mealie meal, cooking oil and increased transport costs.

Fr Chikoya called for urgent interventions to be made to help cushion the lives of the most vulnerable Zambians by providing policy directions that will see a more manageable cost of living. He further noted that the cries of the general public were genuine and deserved the government’s urgent attention.

We agree with the Council of Churches in Zambia’s reflections on the prevailing hardship in the country, and we are deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living, particularly on families and communities. The rapidly increasing price of essential commodities and services is causing severe challenges for our people.

They are already poorly paid and this, coupled with the unstable and ever escalating price of essential commodities and services, is melting their incomes at a very fast rate. In essence, the poor and vulnerable, who are the majority of our population, are suffering a double punishment from Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s corrupt puppet regime’s directionless and anti-poor policies.

Many of our people today are struggling to meet the rising cost of literally everything, especially mealie meal. There is no doubt that the increase in the cost of living is also having a huge impact on consumption patterns. And this situation is negatively affecting most families. It is making once decent families resort to formulating desperate coping strategies to make ends meet that in the long run ends up destroying them irretrievably.

The social crisis that many families in Zambia face today owing to the rapidly increasing and unbearable cost of living is; firstly, taking away their dignity and self-respect. And secondly, the unbearable cost of living and inability to provide is affecting the mental wellbeing of most family providers, which in extreme cases can lead to depression or death. It is becoming clearer each day that many families in our communities are unable to handle or deal with the continuing economic shock.

What is even more saddening, is that the interventions or efforts to address this desperate situation from Mr Hichilema and his corrupt puppet regime are highly disproportionate.

Instead of being desperate and in panic mode by holding staged public meetings in the urban constituencies of Lusaka, we advise Mr Hichilema to come up with workable interventions that will immediately assist the vulnerable to keep pace with the rapidly increasing cost of living. Additional rhetoric, lies, and promises of an egg, a potato, and so on – like he did at one of the public meetings last week – will not sort out the hunger and anger prevailing in most homes countrywide.

Let Mr Hichilema know that these low-level, pickpocket tricks he is attempting to fool our people with will not only backfire but will also fail to close the yawning gap of poverty and squalor that is increasing on a daily basis.

We therefore call for urgent action to help the suffering majority of this country before things get out of hand.

One bad term doesn’t deserve another, aleya!

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

State House and corrupt fertilizer tenders

State House and corrupt fertilizer tenders Featured

There are very serious issues being raised about the fertiliser supply tenders that Mr Hichilema needs to explain.

And these concerns are not baseless. There’s what may be described as corruption as well as a serious lack of transparency and fairness in the awarding of these tenders:

Best Med (Copperbelt Province) price US$11,873,548.68

Agrizam (Eastern Province) price US$24,191,422.05

Alpha (Luapula Province) price US$8,324,998.80

ETG (Muchinga Province) price US$8,570,290.77

Growmax (North Western Province) price US$8,510,253.58

Growmax (Western Province) price US$4,662,547.12

Greenfield (Northern Province) price US$12,328,701.00

Kovenant (Southern Province) price US$22,197,543.75

Direct bidding will cost the Treasury about US$7,790,616.27 more than was offered in the two cancelled tenders. This is money that could have been used to buy medicines for hospitals, pay local government workers, and so on.

How does Mr Hichilema justify this? How does he explain it? What label should be given to it if not corruption?

Ever since UPND took office, the procurement of fertiliser has been scandalously expensive and has become increasingly difficult to conclude in a fair and transparent manner.

The process has been carried out in a way that favours some of Mr Hichilema’s friends and close associates in the industry while discriminating against other players in the sector.

In fact, these dirty and unethical schemes in the procurement of fertiliser are being carried out on the direct orders of certain identifiable advisors in the presidential advisory team at State House. We are aware of these practices and the corrupt links between some presidential advisors and the entities that are being awarded the tenders. It is clear that this is a State House dirty job.

Things can’t continue this way. Let Mr Hichilema come clean on this matter and stop blaming those before him for the same corrupt practices he is tolerating in his own government.

This regime should be ashamed and embarrassed by the corrupt manner in which it has handled the fertiliser procurement process since it took over power.

Fred M’membe

How Hichilema has given away Zambia’s crown in mining for nothing

How Hichilema has given away Zambia’s crown in mining for nothing Featured

Yesterday, Mr Hakainde Hichilema officially gave KCM back to Vedanta, a company whose owner mocked all of us Zambians for selling him our crown jewel of the Zambian mines for nothing.

His actions were particularly painful given that KCM retrenched thousands of workers, withdrew ZCCM social benefits for workers, introduced precarious subcontracting, refused to pay taxes and irresponsibly polluted the rivers on which the poor people of Chingola depend for drinking water and agriculture.

Vedanta’s human rights and environmental record is also a matter of great concern and a subject of global protests. This is the company that Mr Hichilema has given the company back to.

We agree that the liquidation process by the PF was flawed. However, it was justified given the behaviour of the company. Vedanta had a legal right to the company, but lost the social licence. The government should have leveraged this advantage to negotiate for more shares in KCM and the departure of Vedanta. This has not happened and will not happen.

However, this is unsurprising. On August 7 at Parklands Secondary School in Kitwe, Edgar Lungu accused Mr Hichilema of receiving bribes from Vedanta to support his campaigns, and of promising to give KCM back to Vedanta. Soon after forming the government, Mr Hichilema withdrew the matter from the courts and made endless promises about how and when they would announce the way forward.

Aware of the resistance from the public, opposition leaders and experts in mining studies, Mr Hichilema delayed the handover ceremony in the name of protracted negotiations. In reality, I would argue, there were no protracted negotiations but a strategic delay, as some experts have argued, to create enough hopelessness, anxiety, and uncertainty while presenting Vedanta as the only alternative.

Realising the arrogance of Mr Hichilema, the unions that forcefully supported KCM liquidation under the PF, gave in to Vedanta’s promises and began campaigning for Vedanta’s return. The question was no longer about the bad things that KCM under Vedanta did, but when the government would hand over the company to Vedanta. Some churches and youths amplified these calls on various radio platforms, including organised protests that were warmly welcomed by Mr Hichilema and the state-owned media at the expense of the anti-Vedanta protestors.

All this culminated in what we witnessed yesterday, the handover of KCM to Vedanta. This is a reckless and highly irresponsible decision. We cannot handle a company that in 2000 had estimated reserves of 280 million MT at Konkola, with an estimated productive lifespan of over 50 years, and in excess of over 53.9 million MT reserves at Nchanga Mine. With these kinds of resources, we do not need to postpone our debt to the future generation through debt restructuring.

Today, Vedanta is promising: US$1 billion investment in KCM development, US$250 million payment to all local creditors, US$20 million investment into the local community (CSR) every year through a special purpose vehicle¬ – a community trust, 20 percent increase in salaries for employees, and a one-off K2,500 payment to all employees.

Why now, after Vedanta failed to fulfil its commitment to inject US$397 million into KCM as FDI, but instead went on to use all the funds it generated within KCM towards capital projects, depriving the company of the necessary funds for operations and maintenance? This is the same company that bragged about making an easy profit of US$500 million each year from KCM, the mine purchased for a mere US$25 million while declaring losses every year, and refusing to pay taxes.

This is the same company that concentrated on the surface plant concentrator to process seven million tons of ore per annum it did not produce but purchased from other countries, effectively changing the philosophy of the business entirely from “mining” into a “treatment facility”. This is the same company that changed the design of the mine by positioning the shaft in the wrong place.

But that’s not all. This is the same company that led KCM into high indebtedness and the threat of insolvency. The total liability of the company as of 30 September 2013, stood at US$1.567 billion, exceeding its current assets by US$123 million. It was also under the threat of receivership from Standard Bank for defaulting on its US$700 million loan. Unconcerned, in September 2011, Vedanta prematurely recalled the US$500 million loan it had given to KCM earlier, which was supposed to have been repaid in 2012.

This is the same company that frustrated the government’s Business Improvement Plan (BIP) to increase production from 132,318 tonnes of finished copper in 2013, to 178,994 tonnes by 2017, resulting in a further decline in production to 86,585 tonnes.

Today, this is the company that Mr Hichilema has given back the crown jewel of our mines to amidst an escalating high cost of living. This has happened at a time when the promised price reduction of mealie-meal from ZMK150 to ZMK50 has culminated in more than ZMK300 per 25 kg bag; fertiliser, fuel, and so on.

We are saddened by this reckless decision and we want Zambians to ask Mr Hichilema the following simple questions:

• Whose interests are you serving?

• To what extent can you argue that Mr Lungu was wrong?

• Why have the so-called negotiations been silent when you promised transparency?

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

Hichilema’s reckless and desperate ‘coup plot’ talk

Hichilema’s reckless and desperate ‘coup plot’ talk Featured

The talk of a “coup plot” by Mr Hakainde Hichilema and some of his hungry surrogates is nothing but wild, irresponsible and reckless rhetoric.

Before we delve deeper into the details of this cheap plan, here is the context of the scheme.

So upon returning from Harare, Zimbabwe, with a bloodied nose and shame on his head, Mr Nevers Mumba was on national television to defend his disastrous SADC Election Observation Mission report, but also as part of the scheme he made some outrageous and illogical claim that politicians who were labelling Mr Hichilema as a Western puppet were instigating a military coup in Zambia.

What a dishonest, manipulative and reckless statement from a person who is supposed to espouse true Christian beliefs and values. What cheap sophistry, hypocrisy and ignorance of global affairs is this?

Soon, after this highly reckless and inflammatory talk by Mr Mumba, yesterday Mr Hichilema echoed these sentiments.

Mr Hichilema said and I quote, “However, to colleagues that think we are timid by being kind and that they can break the laws and entertain thoughts of illegal take-over of government, including undemocratic coup d’état, our only word is that we are coming for you and we will not allow you to make Zambians start running around as is the case in some places.”

From the above scenario, we can see the connivance and deliberate plot to do evil and get rid of dissent by punishing opposition leaders on trumped-up charges. The pattern is clear for anybody to follow. But they’re not clever enough to understand or later conceal their evil intent. Simply put, they’re reckless schemers who are extremely high on power.

It’s evident that they are unaware and appreciative of the limitations of power and influence. They think they can do what they want and to anyone without consequences for their actions. They’re just lost and confused about the situation in the country.

Lest we forget, Zambia is a country that has witnessed and experienced such senseless tactics before and how they fell flat on their face. And we don’t think we have seen the end of this.

As President, Mr Frederick Chiluba locked up Kenneth Kaunda on similar outrageous allegations of plotting a military coup. Again, the same Mr Chiluba locked up the late Dean Mung’omba for the same reasons as he did with KK. Mr Edgar Lungu also locked up Mr Hichilema for alleged treason. And none of these people cited here was prosecuted. KK was never prosecuted, Mr Mung’omba was never prosecuted, and Mr Hichilema was never prosecuted. So clearly, when leaders are desperate and their hold on power is threatened, they start processes that they never complete.

Meanwhile, as they play such dangerous games, innocent lives and families are being destroyed. This is what Mr Hichilema, an erstwhile detainee himself, is trying to do to those he doesn’t like. Those he feels are a threat to his hold on power. What shame! What a waste of time and effort! What an incorrigible person!

What is even more remarkable about this is that in opposition, Mr Hichilema spoke freely about presidents of this country. For instance, Mr Hichilema is on record describing President Michael Chilufya Sata, as “chimbwi no plan”, loosely translated as a mindless hyena. Mr Hichilema made these remarks about Mr Sata during the time Mr Sata was president and nothing happened to him.

Nobody was spared, and Mr Hichilema made more demeaning and insulting remarks about leaders of this country, including Mr Lungu. So what has changed now? It is acceptable for Mr Hichilema as an opposition leader to describe presidents of this country in terms he deemed fit but it is apparently highly offensive and treasonous for current opposition leaders to do the same to him now that he is the President.

It is now treason to describe Mr Hichilema for what he truly is – a puppet of Western imperialism and transnational corporations. Why should this be so? What type of self-importance, arrogance and tyranny is this? What makes Mr Hichilema think he is so different and more special than the rest of the presidents this country has had? What makes him think the opposition must conduct themselves in a manner that comforts and pleases him?

We urge Mr Hichilema and his hungry surrogates to take caution before they engage in very dangerous activities in order to stay in power. If not, they risk presiding over a killing machine.

We also want to put him on notice that some of us are not prepared to be cowed into submission by the spreading of misinformation, threats and illogical conspiracies, which are nothing but a figment of Mr Hichilema and his surrogates’ imaginations. We wish to remind him that while they were only spectators, some of us were direct participants in the fight for multiparty democracy in this country.

We were at the forefront of the struggle against the one-party state and we will not allow him to turn Zambia into a sham democracy.

Further, let Mr Hichilema be comfortable with our political ideology, discourse and mobilisation strategies, because we mean well and have always been for democratic transitions of power. Never will we support any undemocratic changes of government.

That said, we call upon Mr Hichilema to exhibit maturity and leadership and abandon the highly inflammatory, sensational and intemperate outbursts that he is now making.

We know that he is under pressure. We know that the lies, manipulation and deceit have backfired. We know that he stands exposed in the eyes of Zambians as a liar and a fraud who has no intention whatsoever to do as he promised during his campaign for the presidency. We know he is ashamed of himself. We know the rallies in Lusaka haven’t yielded anything. We know he is extremely unpopular and frustrated with his performance.

But that must not make Zambians – any of us – suffer pantu alelaya eka, tatwaliko tulibakayele!

One bad term doesn’t deserve another, aleya!

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

VEDANTA/KCM saga: The lies, greed and arrogance

VEDANTA/KCM saga: The lies, greed and arrogance Featured

Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

We said it, and Mr Hichilema and his corrupt puppet regime ridiculed and violently opposed our perspective on the issues that were surrounding the situation at KCM. But here we are again in the same situation they ridiculed and violently disputed when we raised the alarm.

It is now evident that they were merely trying to silence the voices of truth on this issue so they could be heard and seen as the only ones who can do what is best for the people of the Copperbelt, in particular the people of Chingola and Chililabombwe.

We repeat what we have said before; that the return of Vedanta at KCM after its Indian owner Anil Agarwal parted with US$200 million, endorses the betrayal and disrespect Mr Hakainde Hichilema has for the people on the Copperbelt.

This particular move has a revealing effect on what type of a leader Mr Hichilema is and how he views and treats the people on the Copperbelt – with low value.

By this decision alone, Mr Hichilema has spat in the face of the people of the Copperbelt, especially the miners, who braved the meandering queues to cast their votes and put him into office.

Below are the articles we published on this issue in July this year.


After parting with US$200 million, Vedanta Resources plc’s 69-year-old Indian owner, Anil Agarwal, is assured of getting back KCM, which he lost control of in a Zambian government initiated liquidation order in 2020.

Agarwal acquired KCM in 2004 in a transaction that had an aggregate value of approximately US$270 million, comprised of a cash consideration of US$48.2 million for the 51 per cent stake, a commitment on the part of Vedanta to fund cash flows in KCM to an aggregate limit of US$220 million, and an agreement on the part of Vedanta to contribute US$1 million towards the cost of a feasibility study of substantial deeper level resources associated with the Konkola mine (containing estimated resources of around 250 million tonnes at 3.8 percent copper), to be undertaken by December 31, 2006.

In August 2021, while addressing miners in Kitwe, the then President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Lungu, claimed that he had received a report that Mr Hakainde Hichilema was soliciting US$300,000 from Vedanta, promising to give them back KCM once elected. An accusation, which Mr Hichilema vehemently denied.

On April 25, 2022, during a media briefing at State House, Mr Hichilema dismissed media reports suggesting that the government planned to give back KCM to Vedanta as falsehoods.

But on May 9, 2022, Mr Hichilema U-turned stating, “Vedanta and ourselves have agreed that we suspend litigation,”

Going by the sequence of events and inconsistencies in the statements, especially on the part of Mr Hichilema, we demand that he comes clean on the Vedanta issue. What is going on? The Zambian people deserve to know the truth and how decisions have been arrived at in this matter.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

In the same month of July, we again guided as follows:


The return of Vedanta at KCM after its Indian owner Anil Agarwal parted with US$200 million, endorses the betrayal and disrespect Mr Hakainde Hichilema has for the people on the Copperbelt.

This particular move has a revealing effect on what type of a leader Mr Hichilema is and how he views and treats the people on the Copperbelt – with low value. By this decision alone, Mr Hichilema has spat in the face of the people of the Copperbelt, especially the miners, who braved the meandering queues to cast their votes and put him into office.

As usual, Mr Hichilema has made known to the Zambian people that the poor masses of this country are nowhere near the equation, and as such deserve no place, value, or respect from his government. Like we have always said, Mr Hichilema is here to protect mining transnational capital and not the working masses. And we shall validate our standpoint stated above by highlighting the facts that led the Zambian government to initiate a liquidation order in 2020, so that citizens can see and judge for themselves.

Under Vedanta, KCM faced various operational difficulties, which included:

1) the mine failed to meet its financial obligations to the workers thereby subjecting them to poor working conditions,

2) the mine failed to honour its debts with contractors and suppliers,

3) the mine was highly indebted and threatened with insolvency, to the extent that as of September 30, 2013, KCM’s total liability stood overwhelmingly at US$1.5 billion, surpassing its asset base by US$123 million. This situation definitely made it unfeasible for the mine to meet its financial obligations. For this reason, KCM defaulted on its US$700 million loan signed with Standard Bank. By the way, this particular loan was secured on the KCM assets,

4) Vedanta failed to live up to its pledge to inject a sum of US$397 million foreign direct investment in the mine but resorted to diverting funds it was generating locally to other ventures thereby choking the mine and leaving it with no resources to inject in its operations,

5) Vedanta lamentably failed to operationalise the Konkola Deep Mining Project despite making numerous pledges and commitments over the same, and,

6) Vedanta never invested in its own equipment. It was merely sub-contracting its works. This made it extremely expensive to run the mine.

Above are just some of the many reasons the Zambia government repossessed the mine and opted to find another investor. Now, with all that we have stated above, we ask a question: which principled and decent leader would surrender back such a key national asset to a dishonest investor like Vedanta?

Clearly, Mr Hichilema is a selfish and showboating politician. But all this won’t end well. It will soon catch up with him because Zambians are not fools. Already the atmosphere is one of exhaustion. People are fatigued of his lies, inconsistency, and self-serving attitude.

Let him know that this country is way bigger than him and so he must stop playing with people’s livelihoods and the country’s future by dishing out key national assets willy-nilly like sweets in a market parlour.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party