Central chamber urges government to take politics out of Mulungushi reopening

Central chamber urges government to take politics out of Mulungushi reopening

By Muliyunda Lilembalemba in Kabwe

THE Central Chamber of Commerce and Industry says as long as the decisions regarding Mulungushi textiles are political, its successful reopening remains in doubt.

In an interview, CCCI president Sydney Tembo warned that political decisions would always see the nation go backwards.

“The issue of Mulungushi Textiles must not be [based on] political decision; you see it must be based on the economic realities. The decisions surrounding Mulungushi Textiles must be economic in nature, which must be well thought-out and understood. It doesn’t help to go five steps forward and ten steps backwards because we are making decisions based on politics. I think we must take politics out of it and say this is a business venture and its success or not should be based on the economic realities,” Tembo said.

“Unless we do that, we won’t succeed there. We needed a proper assessment of the situation and the options available and if it means getting a consultant in to do a proper assessment and make a proposal to the shareholders, that’s what we
should have done. But to rush it based on incomplete information, insufficient information, it does not help the people that are involved. It’s very frustrating to the employees, it’s very frustrating to the community and very frustrating to the population of Kabwe at large.”

He advised the government against limiting use of the infrastructure at Mulungushi Textiles to the textiles industry alone only.

He wondered if the new investor would continue in the same line of business.

“Firstly, I don’t know whether the new investor will continue in the same line of business and whether the same line of business is the most suitable for that infrastructure; I don’t know! We have suggested in the past that we put it to an alternative use. If the textile industry is not able to sustain it, then let’s put it to an alternative use. There are a lot of alternative uses to which that thing could be put and which would offer employment to the people of Kabwe and contribute even to the development of the country,” said Tembo.

“For now, to just put all our eggs in one basket and continue thinking that it just has to run as a textile and forever will be a textile, I don’t know whether we are being fair to ourselves. I don’t think we should do that, even to run it as mini multi facility economic zone, would have been one of the best solutions so that you have two or three different industries investing in various areas and bringing their equipment. There are people who are able to come now, and all they need is a place to operate from. So why can’t such people be given a chance? [If] the thing is advertised for occupation or for use as a multi facility economic zone, you will be surprised as to how much interest it will show. So for me, this thing of thinking that it can only be a textile always… it’s not being very fair.”

Mulungushi Textiles was closed last Friday to facilitate installation of machinery, a process that is expected to take between 18 and 24 months, according to Kabwe district commissioner Dominic Mulenga.