“I DID not go to attend the Global Africa Investment Summit in London to frighten away prospective investors to Zambia and it is unfair for Government to accuse me of attempting to damage the country’s investment potential to gain political mileage,” United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has said.
He said contrary to assertions that he took advantage of the Global Africa Investment Summit in London to scare away prospective investors, he in fact used the slot to address world leaders on why investors should consider Zambia as a destination of choice.
Mr Hichilema said he did not understand why Government and the leaders of the Patriotic Front (PF) at different levels angrily reacted to his speech at the summit when at no time did he paint a negative picture about the investment environment in the country.
He said it was the ‘‘careless and irresponsible statements’’ suggesting appropriation of private businesses from Government leaders and PF officials that were scaring away investors.
The UPND leader said there was need for policy consistency to attract investors to Zambia.
Mr Hichilema stated that it was important for Government to engage investors each time there was a crisis in the economy as opposed to threatening appropriation which he said was nothing but nationalization.
Mr Hichilema said this yesterday at the interactive media breakfast organized by the UPND at the party’s national campaign centre in Woodlands.
He said world leaders at the Global Africa Investment Summit have unanimously agreed that Africa was ready for economic take-off but that the continent would only be able to achieve its dream if it had quality political leadership.
Mr Hichilema said democracy and the respect for the rule of law were catalysts for the economic progression of Africa, stating that the continent seemed to have stagnated because of the poor governance record and bad political leadership.
“I would not have gone for the Global Africa Investment Summit in London to frighten away investors. To the contrary, I sold Zambia to prospective investors at the summit that was attended by prominent world leaders.
‘‘It is unfair for Government and the ruling party to attack me on assertions that I went to London to damage the country’s investment potential. We need investors but we should avoid careless statements such as appropriation of private enterprise or businesses because that is what scares away investors.
‘‘We must also endeavour to have consistent, stable and predictable policies if we have to attract investors,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said Africa needed a new breed of leaders that would inspire economic growth, stating that if the continent could grow its democracy and respect for the rule of law, it would be easy to attract local, regional and direct foreign investment and create jobs.
He said Zambia had the capacity to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity with investment in the energy sector but warned that there was a danger that electricity tariffs would become unaffordable to ordinary Zambians if Government was going to engage in expensive energy investment ventures.
Mr Hichilema observed that bureaucracy was also slowing down investment in Africa and that there was need for African leaders to break the culture of procrastination when dealing with prospective investors.
“It is important that Africa must grow her democracy and the rule of law. It is the respect of citizens’ freedoms that can open investment even more. In addition, we must have consistent, stable and predictable policies and avoid careless statements that suggest appropriation from Government leaders,” Mr Hichilema said.