ZAMBIA should not be reduced to a dumping ground for cheap and low grade products and services and that is why there is greater need for the country’s procurement system to be impeccable and beyond question, President Lungu has said.
He said it was incorrect for Zambians to blame the Chinese business community and contractors each time the country failed to shop and bargain for the best contracts to provide the needed services to the people.
President Lungu has demanded that the country’s procurement system should always be devoid of any traces of compromise if it were to attract the best goods and services from the Chinese business community.
Speaking to journalists before his departure for Beijing where he is today expected to hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and sign bilateral agreements, the Head of State said China was an interesting economic phenomenon with the best and worst products and that it was up to individual countries to shop for what was good for their citizens.
President Lungu said the Zambian procurement system should always demand the best services and contracts from the Chinese contractors because Asian country was a shopping market and had the ability and skills to offer just about anything.
He emphasized the need for Zambians to protect the country from becoming a dumping ground for products and services that failed to meet the true value of what was expected from contractors.
“China is an interesting phenomenon as it has the best and the worst and if you are going to accept the first offer at the first point of call, do not blame the Chinese if you end up with the worst. Our procurement system should be impeccable and beyond question and we must demand to procure contracts that are going to deliver the best goods and services for the people. China is a market place and if you shop the worst, do not blame them. It is a market place and there is what we call buyer beware. If you are going to jump on the first opportunity at the first point of call, the chances are that you will not get the best,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State explained that unless the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states went united and began to speak the same language in trade bargaining, the economies of the region would not be able to interface and the effect could be disjointed development.
He said Asian countries and China in particular were fast growing economies and that it was critical for the regional bodies in Africa such as ECOWAS, COMESA and SADC to go beyond the geopolitical boundaries if their economies were to be integrated into the global market.
The President however cautioned that if Asian countries with investment in Africa were going to partner with the local people in their investment, there was a danger that they would not be able to fully tap into the economic potential of the continent.
He stated that the silk road Asia was espousing was not a new concept as the idea was originally meant to construct a road between the Far East and Europe all the way to Great Britain, now the United Kingdom.
President Lungu stated that the Silk Road concept was meant to promote trade between the people of Asia and Europe and that Africa could easily learn from such ambitions and come up with its own strategy of boosting its trade.
And President Lungu has described the Chinese as a people of exceptional hospitality and that their tourism industry was attracting millions of its citizens as opposed to having the sector a preserve of foreign nationals.
He said China’s Sanya had over the past few years become a tourist destination of choice and that it was his desire that Zambia could start investing in tourist zones as the country had the potential to grow the sector with exponential benefits.
Meanwhile, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said Zambia had a lot to learn from the accelerated economic development China had experienced in the last 60 years.
Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba said Zambia was endowed with abundant natural resources and agricultural produce that could easily contribute to the development of the country but were largely not being exploited.
President Lungu met China Poly Group Corporation and China Henan Corporation and the two companies are prospecting to invest in Zambia with interest in the mining sector.