Sale of Zamtel not IMF condition-State

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has not given the sale of Zamtel as one of the conditions for the Fund’s bail out and Zambians should ignore social media gossip and speculation that the Zambian government has been forced to offload the telecommunications company, Transport and Communication Minister Brian Mushimba has said. Mr Mushimba said the Government was working hard in looking for alternative measures to work round the different challenges affecting the nation economically including the current power deficiency being experienced due to the drought that has led to low water levels for hydropower production. He said it was unfortunate that some people have taken to spreading falsehoods which were aimed at fuelling people’s anxieties against Government’s intentions and efforts to rebuilding the economy. He explained that Zambia was going through tough economic pressure emanating from external shocks such as copper prices and international currency rates over which the country had no control, but that he was hopeful the Government’s austerity measures would help put things in place to slowly rebuild the economy. “I am not part of the Government’s negotiation squad that would suggestively engage the IMF if indeed it takes off, but I have heard through social media speculation about the sale of Zamtel and other parastatals as a means to meet the conditions set to qualify for IMF loan. “I have no idea if there are such negotiations and if any of what is being said is true about Government and IMF, or the conditions, but what I can say is that there is too much speculation about this (IMF) which even Government has not announced yet,” he said. He was commenting on speculations from various sections of the media that the IMF has given the Zambian Government conditions to sell Zamtel and ZESCO among other parastatals as a way of meeting its benchmarks to qualify for a loan to pump into the economy. Mr Mushimba said Government was aware of the numerous challenges being experienced in the energy sector and the mining industry and that all those austerity measures being implemented were the best options suggested to help rebuild the economy. He has since appealed to all well-meaning Zambians to ignore speculations on social media, but that they should wait upon the Government to do their best in finding best ways of dealing with the situation, adding that “as long as there is no official announcements from Government, treat anything in the media especially social media as mere rumours aimed to unsettling people’s confidence”. He said the Government was looking for better ways of dealing with the current economic hardships the country had found itself in.

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