President of the UPND Hakainde Hichilema has dismissed Government’s denial of the sale of the NRDC to the Chinese construction conglomerate ‘Avic Project Engineering Company LTD’ stating that the party stood on solid ground to arrive at such an opinion.
Hichilema was speaking to journalists at a media briefing at the UPND Secretariat in Lusaka’s Rhodespark surbubs yesterday afternoon.
The UPND President displayed to journalists a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which he said proved that the sale of NRDC has been effected.
Recently the UPND wrote a letter to Government demanding that it halts the sale of NRDC to the Chinese as the land the College was located was strategic to the Nation.
In a written response to the UPND, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Julius Shawa denied that Government had effected the sale but that there was only an MoU with the Chinese on the intentions of the two parties regarding the land.
However, Mr Hichilema stated that article 6.1 of the MoU clearly stated that the sale was already in force.
“Article 6.1 of the Memorandum of Understanding states that, ‘it shall enter into force and effect when duly signed by the authorized representatives of both parties and shall remain in full force and effect for a period of two (2) years from the effective day’. This means the transaction has been concluded since the said parties have signed the MoU“, stated Mr Hichilema.
The UPND President disclosed that the signing date was the effective date and that the principle of sale in such an undertaking is the ‘location of the land’ to be swapped in Chief Shakumbila in Mumbwa District.
“The transaction evolves around the principle of ‘under equivalent model’ which means asset to asset swap. Now NRDC is worthy millions of dollars in its current status, while the land in Chief Shakumbila is empty and yet based on these two current scenarios, the ‘under equivalent model’ transaction has been effected. This simply means the 304 hectare NRDC College has been sold for free to AVIC”, said Hichilema.
Government has been beleaguered by demands from civil societies and several opposition parties to rescind its decisions to sell several public properties that are of strategic importance to the Nation.
There has been reports of secret talks by Government and foreign companies especially of Chinese origin, with a view to sell or lease public assets as a way of paying off huge undeclared debt owed by the Zambian Government to Beijing.
Government is reportedly mulling on selling other national assets among them Chimbokaila correctional facility, Kenneth Kaunda and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airports respectively and the Victoria Falls in Livingstone.
International economic experts have accused China of setting debt traps for developing Nations by offering them cheap large loans in exchange for strategic physical assets in the event the countries fail to pay the debts.
The IMF recently discontinued its credit facility talks with Zambia apparently after the Fund failed to receive a full disclosure on the extent of the current Chinese debt stock, which is estimated to be over US $17 billion.