PF has auctioned ZNBC to China – Nalumango
By Prosper Miyoba
MUTALE Nalumango has described as outrageous the government’s move to auction ZNBC to a Chinese company.
ZNBC has gone into a joint venture with a Chinese digital television provider, Top Star Communications, to roll out top set boxes for watching digital television under the TopStar brand.
Under the deal, TopStar would be collecting all ZNBC advertising revenues and tower rentals for the next 25 years, money which would go towards servicing a US$273 million loan government contracted from the Export-Import Bank of China to invest in a digital broadcasting network and building of provincial studios.
Last week, information minister and chief government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga agreed that the government had partnered with Star Times, a Chinese firm, to help with the provision of digital television under TopStar Communications.
She disclosed that 60 per cent of shares in ZNBC, which until now was 100 per cent owned by the government, would be owned the Star Times.
But Nalumango, a former information minister in Levy Mwanawasa’s MMD administration, said the PF government was clearly abrogating the Constitution signed by themselves because no state owned company was allowed by law to sale over 49 per cent of its shares.
“This is outrageous. How can a foreign company earn 60 per cent shareholding in a national asset? It is against the Constitution that President [Edgar] Lungu signed himself. The furthest a foreign company can hold in a national assent is 49 per cent. The PF government must be taken to task because the rate at which it is moving in plundering national resources is alarming,” Nalumango said.
She said giving away advertising revenues would be costly for the national broadcaster as media institutions serviced themselves out of such collections.
“Collecting advertisement revenues for the next 25 years from ZNBC by TopStar is the last nail in the coffin to destroy the public broadcaster. How will it service its operations because the joint venture is purely for China through TopStar to get its loan back and nothing else?” Nalumango, who also served as deputy speaker of the National Assembly under the MMD government, said.
She also said it was unfair for common citizens to be made to pay hiked TV levy on top of the economic challenges they were currently going through.
“This government doesn’t care about the ordinary Zambians. If TopStar gets all the revenues on behalf of ZNBC, what will the country benefit? It’s very difficult to understand how the PF government operates. One would wonder if at all these people have a heart for the people they are leading. How do you give away a national asset to another country to be operating on your behalf? That’s nonsense! It doesn’t make sense. What is it that we are getting as a country? This is a mad man’s arrangement. This it total corruption and it is that certain individuals have benefited from the deal. These are the riches we are seeing from people in government in a period of one year,” said Nalumango, the UPND national chairperson.