The Ministry of Education is not being fair to award lucrative publishing contracts to foreign-owned companies at the expense of indigenous ones, former Minister professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa has said.
The Government, he said, had a duty and responsibility to develop local entrepreneurship and acumen by a deliberate policy of promoting local publishers.
And Zambia National Teachers Union (ZNUT) secretary general Newman Bubala has said it was not justifiable to deny local people opportunities which could lessen the burden of unemployment in the country.
Prof. Lungwangwa, who is MMD Nalikwanda member of Parliament, defended local publishers who have complained of being overlooked, by contract conditionalities and stipuylations that eliminated them in presference for better capitalised foreigned companies.
He said the reasons being given by Ministry of Eductation for choosing non-indegenous companies did not have ‘‘any aorta of truth in them’’.
He said the Ministry of Education should not mislead the nation that if a company was registered as a business entity in the country it automatically qualified to be a Zambian firm.
‘‘If a company started in South Africa, for example, and is registered here in Zambia, are the owners Zambians or South Africans? Does the money remain in Zambia or it is taken out of the country after they do their businesses? This justification is wrong,” Prof. Lungwangwa said.
He said the Ministry of Education should realise that governments throughout the world give preference to local investments as opposed to those from other countries.
Yesterday, MK Publishers Limited, a company owned by a Ugandan was due to be awarded a contract worth over US$5 million while four other foreign-owned companies are sharing the other US$4 million contract bonanza.
Maiden Publishing House and Stationers Limited, the only Zambian firm among the six, was awarded a paltry K51, 200 contract, much to the annoyance of local publishers who had consistently condemned the tendering process over alleged corruption and unfair treatment.
And Mr Bubala said the Ministry of Education was insincere in the manner they were awarding tenders of educational materials in its new policy.
“Can the Government intervene and sit down with the Ministry of Education and local publishers to iron out the problem because the same local publishers have been there for a long time and what has gone wrong this time?” he said.
Mr Bubala said the controversy in which the Ministry of Education has been deliberately leaving out Zambian publishers from a lucrative Government tender to provide educational materials in Zambian schools was unfortunate.
He said the new system the ministry was using to award tenders for the procurement of educational materials disadvantaged local publishers.
“There is no guarantee that awarding foreign companies a contract will in anyway help this country because this is deserting the local investments, who were supposed to be a priority before any other outside companies,” he said.
Local publishers were against the Ministry of Education’s new policy of awarding textbooks tender to foreigners at the expense of local companies, resulting in Zambia losing colossal sums of money which could have contributed to the country’s economic growth.