Dipak must shut up

IT IS shocking that former minister of Commerce Dipak Patel can condemn Government for banning foreigners from engaging in businesses such as poultry and quarrying when the directive was meant to empower local Zambians, the Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) has observed.

Last week, Government announced that it had banned foreign nationals in the country from running businesses such as poultry, quarrying, block-making and domestic haulage.

But Mr. Patel said the ban had no legitimacy because Government had not issued a Statutory Instrument that will provide for these measures, rendering the ban ineffective.

He said it was only a Statutory Instrument that would allow for policy changes. He accused Government of  ’’just barking out policies’’ and expecting them to have legal standing.

Reacting to Mr. Patel’s comment, ZRP president Wright Musoma said there was nothing illogical about Government’s pronouncements as the directive did not require any SI as it was a measure needed to protect Zambians.

Mr. Musoma challenged Mr. Patel to have moral integrity rather than engaging in petty politics when commenting on national issues.

He said he could not believe that a former minister who understood the operations of government would sink so low as to condemn everything that Government was doing for its citizens because there was no single Government official who would benefit from the directive.

He noted that it was common practice for all governments throughout the world to protect the interests of their citizens, adding that it was morally wrong for Mr. Patel to take an antagonistic approach simply because he was not in Government. “We are sick and tired of the so-called investors who come to Zambia to do small businesses that our local Zambians are doing, thereby taking away the business opportunities from them. We cannot afford to have foreigners coming to Zambia to sell tomatoes and open up tuntembas when they came in as investors. That is not right.

“So, we are shocked that Mr. Patel could go to an extent of condemning Government for acting in the best interest of Zambians and we only hope that he was misquoted but if it was true, then it is unfortunate,” Mr. Musoma said.

He accused Mr. Patel of lacking basic economic knowledge on the implications of opening  all business opportunities to foreigners.

“Does Mr. Patel think every business that can be done by Zambians should be given to  foreigners? Does he think that Government can be so reckless asto turn a blind eye to the complaints by Zambians that their businesses were being hijacked by foreigners?

“Doesn’t he understand that the same people will come to Zambia, make profits and externalise these to their countries of origin while leaving the country without anything? I mean, let us stop playing dirty politics and be reasonable for once.

‘‘These are serious matters that should not be politicised simply because one belongs to the opposition. We are talking about putting the interest of the Zambians first here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Musoma has asked Government to come up with an investment financial ceiling for investors when they enter the country before venturing into any business so that they did not exploit local people.

He said the current situation where most Zambians were kicked out of business as a result of a laissez-faire situation because of lack of stringent measures before foreigners registered their businesses needed to be addressed urgently.

“There is need for Government to come up with a deliberate policy on how much money an investor should declare before he is allowed to do any business because some of these people come with very little money and are forced to engage into the same businesses that our marketeers are involved in and because they have a slight advantage of money, our people find it difficult to cope and are kicked out of business,” he said.