Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Zambian Government Seeks Zamtel Partner

The Zambian government on Friday stated that it was seeking an equity partner to help run the Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL) because government has no funds to revive the giant state-owned firm.

Communications and Transport Minister Dora Siliya said this in a ministerial statement to parliament on Friday. The minister’s comments come after days of controversy surrounding the sale of the cash strapped firm, prompting the Speaker of Parliament to order government to issue a statement on the matter.

The government has been accused of using corrupt methods to sell off the company, by engaging a consultancy firm based in the Cayman Islands to carry out the evaluation of the company without following proper procedures.

Government procedure forbids the engagement of a single consultant without first inviting bids from prospective consultants and then selecting the best bid.

In the case of the Cayman Islands firm, Siliya is alleged to have engaged the firm without inviting bids from other consultants.

But Siliya told parliament that the government’s urgent intention is to save ZAMTEL from total collapse, and an evaluation of its considerable assets have to be done first before bringing in a partner.

The firm is on the brink of collapse and owes former employees and others over 600 billion kwacha (115 million US dollars).

She said government recognised that ZAMTEL is a strategic institution, hence the decision to only partially sell it off and maintain an interest in it.

She dismissed reports that government would pay the Cayman Island consultant two million US dollars to evaluate the assets of the company, and said the company would only be paid 250 million kwacha (48,000 US dollars).

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