Economic Association of Zambia (EAS) President Lubinda Haabazoka has condemned the riots that took place in Kitwe following allegations that government had sold the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) to a Chinese investor.
Dr. Haabazoka said it was unfortunate that the public rioted based on unverified information about the sale of ZAFICO.
On Monday some residents of Kitwe’s Kawama, Chimwemwe, Kwacha, Buchi and Kamitondo rioted over allegations that ZAFFICO had been sold off to a Chinese private buyer by the Industrial Development Corporation.
Dr. Haabazoka expressed displeasure at the growing tendency of some members of the public to spread false information in the country.
“The ZAFFICO issue was very simple as the Minister of Finance and Zambia State Insurance Cooperation announced early this year that they were going to reduce shareholding in most parastatal companies which include ZAFFICO and ZISC,” Dr. Haabazoka said.
He stated that there was need for the riotous public that included employees of ZAFICO and timber traders to engage government to get firsthand information on the matter.
Dr. Haabazoka noted that without verified information stakeholders speculated deceitful information of ZAFICO being sold to the Chinese when government’s intention was to offload shares in the forestry company on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LSE).
“Government should have been engaged for it to explain to the employees and the public that there was going to be an opportunity for them to buy some shares and benefit from the ownership enterprise because government was planning to offload shares on the stock market”, Dr. Haabazoka said.
He said most people in the area are timber traders and any misinformation on ZAFICO could cause them to react.
However, Dr. Haabazoka urged Zambians to verify information before taking any action in view of widespread spreading of false information going on in the country.
Dr. Haazoka attributed the growing tendency of spreading of falsehoods to information vacuum by stake holders.