Patson Chilemba, (reporter for the Post newspaper until Sata became president of Zambia in 2011), has responded to an article in the South African newspapers entitled “Incoherent policy will undermine Zambia” . Chilemba is the PF regime first secretary for press at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa.
He wrote the following letter to the Business day:
I READ your story, “Incoherent policy will undermine Zambia” (March 12 ). It seems there is a systematic attempt on your part to paint a bad image of Zambia.
You allege that there is growing political intolerance and impressions are that Zambian President Michael Sata’s government does not have a coherent development policy, which will undermine the country’s investment credentials and economic growth.
You allege that there is a sustained assault on opposition leaders and the seizure of several private businesses sold to foreign investors by the previous administration, and that, as a result, questions about Mr Sata’s commitment to the rule of law and protection of investments are being raised.
You further state that over the past several months, Mr Sata’s government has taken control of mobile operator Zambia Telecommunications (Zamtel), Zambia Railways, the Finance Bank and the Collum coal mine — all privatised under the predecessor governments of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
Mr Sata claims he was forced to intervene because aspects of the sales were corrupt.
In our press statement sent to your staff reporter we gave various reasons for this.
However, it seems our response to those cardinal issues has been ignored so that an impression could be sustained that the Zambian government was unilaterally seizing private businesses sold to foreign investors by the previous government.
The fact that the Zambian government, under the leadership of Mr Sata, managed to secure $750m via a eurobond — which was oversubscribed 24 times — is a sign of confidence in the administration.
You mention that the Zambian economy will expand by 7.3% this year, from 6.9% last year, driven largely by demand from China.
It is also worth noting that the economy is expected to expand mainly because of the sound economic policies of the Zambian government and the expected foreign direct investment into the country.
Apart from raising issues in the article in question, you also published an opinion ( Reversing Zambia’s democratic gains, February 22) in which you accused our president of stepping back from the democratic ideals.
While we appreciate your freedom to free expression and to cover events in Zambia, we plead with you to uphold the tenets of fairness, truthfulness and objectivity, which are some of the important hallmarks of journalism.
First Secretary (Press), Zambia High Commission