Politics

Dear Mr President: An Open Letter To HE Pres. Edgar Chagwa Lungu

Open Letter to The President of the Republic of Zambia
State House
Lusaka

RE: A SAD STORY OF A RETURNING ZAMBIAN WHO INVESTED IN THE COUNTRY AND LOST EVERYTHING-THE CASE OF A WRONG INVESTMENT IN THE TIMBER SECTOR

Your Excellency Sir, I know that you do not know me and most likely you have never heard about me before. I am a returning Zambian who heeded the call by the former Presidents to return and invest in Zambia. Every time we had a Zambian President visit China and meet the Zambian community there, they all echoed one thing, “Zambians in the Diaspora should return home and invest in their country”.

In 2012 after consultation with my family and business associates, I finally made up my mind to come back to Zambia permanently. In the same year I even started my company called Green Lake Zambia Limited specializing in Construction and Real Estate Development.

The company has been in operation since then and we have done a number of construction projects for both the government and the private sector. In the same line we have invested in Real Estate Development and have employed over 200 Zambians during the course of our operations in the past 5 years.

Your Excellency, I was one of a few privileged Zambians in the Diaspora who successfully relocated and quickly found his footing in the country. Perhaps this was easy for me because prior to my relocation, I was spearheading investment projects for the company I was working for in China (Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group) as an International Business Manager. I had been to Zambia several times on investment projects and I knew the environment very well which made it easy for me to settle down.

You Excellency Sir, as a way to diversify our business in other areas other than construction and Real Estate Development, Green Lake responded to the advertisement in 2016 by the Forestry Department for indigenous Zambian companies to apply for concessions throughout the country. As a company, this was a great opportunity to diversify our business and be part of indigenous Zambians who were going to take part in the sustainable management of our Natural Resources.

Indeed Sir, in December, 2016, the Forestry Department issued us with a Medium Scale Concession License in Chief Katyetye Chiefdom in Isoka District.

As a company that is committed to making use of the opportunity in line with our long term strategy of investment in local production and value addition, we went further to buy various sawmilling machines, equipment and trucks for the same business. Indeed we were very happy with our decision, and in the beginning everything seems to be going on very well.

Your Excellency, our excitement about this investment was short-lived as a few months later; the Forestry Department issued a suspension on all timber transactions throughout the country.

In May, 2017, without any prior communication from the Forestry Department or any government institution, we were surprised that our site was visited by a group of soldiers who told us that all licenses were revoked by you, Your Excellency, and that we were operating illegally. This came as a very big surprise to us.

Your Excellency, the soldiers arrested the workers they found on site doing nothing because there was a suspension and took them to Isoka Police station cells. They stayed in custody for over four days as I was out of the country at the time and had to cut short my business trip and flew to Isoka via Mbeya in Tanzania.

As I write to you Sir, the case is still in court and my workers keep travelling to Isoka for mention as the DPP has not provided any direction for the case to date.

Your Excellency Sir, I also regret to inform you that apart from the harassment and abuse that my workers went through during their arrest despite them being in possession of all legal papers, in July 2017 the soldiers came back to our timber processing site and confiscated all our timber and took it to the DCs office.

Your Excellency this was done without any seizure order or repossession order from the courts. All what the soldiers told us was that they were operating under orders. This is in total disregard of the fact that our company has all the legal documentations and government receipts for all the timber production and conveyance licenses for which we had paid through the Forestry Department in Isoka and Chinsali.

As I write to you Mr. President, ZAFFICO is in the process of loading our timber and export it to China. Last week ZAFFICO took some Chinese to check our timber which we harvested lawfully and we are in possession of all the legal documents.

Your Excellency Sir, we invested everything that we had in our timber business to buy machinery, employ workers, harvest the timber and process it. This came at a huge price to the other businesses that we do like construction and Real Estate Development. For the past Eight months we have been hopeful that things may normalize and the industry will be regulated and our timber would be given back to us so that we can go back to business and at least recoup our investment.

As things stand now, there is no hope left. Our timber is going to be loaded by ZAFFICO and be sold to the Chinese who are in Isoka right now.

Mr. President, this is indeed a bitter pill for me as a returning Zambian who heeded government’s call to come back and invest in the country. For many years, Zambians cried that they were taking very little ownership in the management of their Natural Resources like Mines and Forestry.

Our getting of the Concession License made us believe that finally government had realised that Zambians needed to be at the centre of controlling their Natural Resources. Our plan as a company was to acquire all machinery needed to go into not only semi processing for export, but also further into finished products locally for both local and international markets.

However, this is never going to happen because our investment has been grabbed from us. As I write Your Excellency, the company is at a verge of collapse; our cash-flow is weak as we invested everything that we had in a business that has failed to take off since early this year. In a couple of weeks, we may completely go bankrupt and our creditors will foreclose on us. I will lose property and everything that I have worked hard for and all the investment that I brought in the country. My workers will be jobless and so will I.

Your Excellency, Sir, just for your information, I am one of the Zambians that have been educated at a great cost to the country. I was a recipient of the Zambia-China Joint Scholarship which enabled me to study for a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering at Guangxi University in China where I graduated as a top student in the Civil Engineering Department, and I am also a recipient of the Beit Trust Scholarship which enabled me to go and study for a Masters Degree in Management at the University of Leeds in the UK where I graduated with a distinction, and I was among the top ten students from the Business School.

I chose to come back and contribute to the economic development of my country but a few days from now, I will lose my business and I will be jobless. In short, I am back to square one where I was after completing my Bachelors Degree in China.

Indeed Sir, this is my story, I do not know whether to regret my coming back to Zambia or whether this is a call to leave the country and never to come back.

Yours Faithfully
Kumbikilani Phiri
Owner of Green Lake Zambia Limited
& Legacy Sawmills Limited

69 Comments

  1. Timothy Banda

    Well aticurated boss hope it gets to the boss himself

  2. wisdom mwale

    Its A Sad Story My Bro, Go Back To China For Good. Us We Are Used. This Is A Way In Which Are Governed For The Past Five Years. Its Not New. We Are Under Ruthless Men And Women No Mercy At All.

  3. JM

    My friend never trust politicians there are also job seekers.
    Iam based in USA also planning to come back with my conviction. Do away with Zambian politicians.
    They prefer to excite kaponyas than you who are a threat to them or a competitor.
    A lot of educated Zambians who prefer to go back mostly ended up living in South Africa. It’s much better than to be under PF government. To get your things back join PF as a cadre , your business will be compensated with interest. But if you choose to be gentlemen forget , you are done or doomed.

  4. Tony jaden

    That’s bad zambia I don’t know what zambia will turn into if our own people can be treated like this

  5. Dominic

    This is a sad story that requires urgent attention. When are we going to protect our own indigenous Investors with such crude harassment?

  6. Richard

    this problem, that your letter went to a wrong person, a deaf.

  7. Mbayo Jackson

    Hmmmn too bad Phiri……. Hope things will get back to normal. This is the listening government…. Everything will be fine.

  8. louise halw

    That’s sad indeed. I want to believe and hope that something be donenon your situation. Raising up a company is not any easy thing to loose things in that manner. Our listening and human President will definitely do something

  9. Sj

    If you’re abroad and are thinking of coming back what seems to work for good is investing in Housing.
    After we all have done our business the next thing we look for is where to rest our heads. Houses are not movable assets. Most footballers/politicians ‘ve realised this and ventured into it. Your case is most unfortunate. Try to invest in houses. As a Civil Engineer you may know the rules better and not go wrong. Comment

    • Kaluba Musenda'Simuyemba

      This is sad story for you and many others who may wish to venture into wealth creating ventures using God endowed resources like timber. My simple advice: DO NOT FIGHT AND COMPETE WITH THOSE IN GOVERNMENT IN DOING BUSINESS – THE FACT THAT A LOT OF MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN GOVERNMENT HAVE HAD NO SUCCESS AT PERSONAL LEVEL IS SURE RECIPE TO EITHER PUNISH OR CIRCUMVENT GENUINE ENTREPRENEURS LIKE YOU. They will do all else to make you fail – PHD syndrome is a reality brother!
      Politics in Zambia is BUSINESS for those that make it, therefore all BUSINESS DEALS must be either theirs and/or for them; you just have to learn the ropes, others crying to the president may not help. Them guys around him will make impossible for you and the likes to thrive nor be heard. Eradicable is inevitable especially for those that are hypocrites. Soldier on my brother Zambia is for Zambians, do not give up on what God has give you. The Corrupt are not to last for ever. The President is also overwhelmed with this reality – trust you guts for once. My mobile is +260 97 777 6192 I have a lot to share with you. Stay blessed

  10. Truth teller

    Kumbikilani Phiri, welcome back to the real Zambia! So you thought that having all the legal licences and permits were secure? Now you may have realised that the Rule of LAW that Levy Mwanawasa worked so hard for, ended when Lungu was “elected” by a show of hands (or maybe pangas) at Kabwe. Since then Zambian have had no human rights and any democracy that we may have had has been stolen, just like the election of 2016 was. Thieves are in control of the country, and you should leave immediately as your letter will make you a target. Opposition is not allowed anymore, jail without justification will be applied as you have no doubt seen. Just write off your loss and get out with your head intact. There are worse alternatives.

    • Prosper phiri

      Wat a sad story bro..I hope his excellence will take an act on this issue positively… Coz u did wat is right in boost de economy of our country Zambia by investing in it…nd let de Almighty God take charge… In everything.. Amen..

    • Mukwasu Wasu

      Sad tell indeed, your love, passion and commitment sound unparalleled. Just pray that the recipient of your letter has not joined hands with Chinese in the same business. We used to laugh at Nigeria over corruption, look at were we are going? Does this country look like a democracy – accountable and transparent or do we all need a “UNIP card” to run business? Mr lawyer what legacy would you like to leave?

  11. Kasman

    Sad news big man,we just pray that this news will reach our listening president and everything will be given back to u.

  12. Bee

    Sorry bro. The fact that He’s in know of what he did makes good of a thing.

  13. Kanji

    That z a sad story

  14. Kanji

    Too bad, this country awe sure tefintu

  15. Ss

    Remember Dangote Is Doing Wel In His Country, Wat About Us Here In Zambia? Y Cnt U Give Us Chance To Develope Our Own Country And Give Jobs To Our Pipo? Please Sir Im A Consend Citizen.

  16. Gift

    Very sad indeed.my brother, be strong. Am sure his excellency will come to your rescue. Am also one of the Zambians who was out but decided to come back home.So I understand what you are going through. I have great faith in our President. He will surely help.

  17. Vivian

    very sad and touching indeed, I hope this latter reaches the president am made to believe that this is why some people have opted never to return and invest in our because of corruption in our governance system

  18. S/s

    Too sad my bro but things will be OK.

  19. Lsk

    Too bad,lets hope the president will hear this.I know he can do something to help you

  20. Elias banda

    Well explained Broh but a bad story

  21. Kelvin Mulenga

    It is just unfortunate that, my brother Phiri communitied to our President late but, I am assuring you that if all stated above is true, our President is coming into the matter and establish the truth. HE President Edger C. Lungu is a listening President, humble and aiming to make it good for all of us. From your story my brother, I even realized what T.B. Joshua says in his preachings. He says, `African leaders do have good intentions to develop their countries but the people around them, do it otherwise `. I instead of working with the President to realize his vision, they aim at enriching themselves and that affect our good leaders like President Lungu failing to meet the target in good time. I do believe, HE President Lungu is going to fish out what is obtaining on the ground.

    Even though I am just a common man, I do appreciate good leaders and as soon as this message reaches the President, many who are part of this disturbing predicament will be summoned for questioning.

    Our President, protect your citizen of this great nation and it will attract more Zambians outside there to come back and create jobs for many Zambians. Please do the screening and fire all, who are delaying your development programs.

    • Hollywood

      Mr k.Mulenga u a good man coz you have explained things that have touched me keep it up

    • Mulenga Mulenga

      amidst all dis undenyable nonsense goin on in de country u still manage to play puppet to these selfish politicians, mulekwatako insoni

  22. Mupengu Poniso

    This is very sad,and am personally shocked that such should be happening at such a time and age.When are we going to grow up as a Nation? I would love to know how the President will respond

  23. Hm

    Our President listens I know he will do something code he needs Zambian investors

  24. lusaka

    Unfortunately he won’t listen to you as he is busy travelling and opening up ministries that do nothing at the cost of taxpayers money

  25. lulu jay

    As a country we need to benefit from our natural resources,yet only foreigners do,but when it’s time for voting it’s us and the is no change what so ever

  26. It's very painful especially after investing so much.z

    Very painful

  27. John Chinena

    Something seems wrong here. Can someone from Foretry dept clarify something here. It could be something illegal was happening here. Why not approach the PS, MP or responsible Minister to help? Would love to hear the other side of the story.

  28. John Chinena

    Some thing seems wrong here. Can someone from Foretry dept clarify something here. It could be something illegal was happening here. Why not approach the PS, MP or responsible Minister to help? Would love to hear the other side of the story.

  29. Lc

    Indeed a sad situation but what is surprising is that the timber in question is not well explained i.e if l didn’t miss any point papers may be there but often are times when people diverge their business please assure us that it is not the famous mukula timber

  30. webman

    unfortunately, this kind of story music to the ears of many a zambian. thats the kind of people that we have always been, mean and hard hearted to the core!

  31. Songwe Stephen Abraham

    Its very dreadfully just like God so that things will be okay!

  32. Songwe Stephen Abraham

    Very awful!

  33. Bruce

    Too bad to hear! Keep on airing your disappointment, so that they can look on to it quickly.

  34. Master kay

    My bro better to go back to China where you will be thinking little and doing things with changes,because here pa z things will never get better.

  35. Henry katongo

    So sad my brother we don’t know were this country is heading to.

  36. marlon

    Its sad my bro.but the only thing i would advise is that stay calm and let HE Edgar chagwa lungu work on yo problem.he is a listening president.prospective citzens would look at gvt overall work and not judge the president solely on one irrational act.

  37. Leonard pomboloka

    When are we going to enjoy in our God given resources? Because the pf government is full of bakabolala!!God help us like you did to the Israel’s they cried to you and you heard them.

  38. mule

    Gvt twalabombashani fyonsekwikatapo sure Awe sure twali dununa.

  39. Justice is my favourite food

    This is indeed unfair

  40. Francis Mulenga Muma

    So sad to read

  41. Sydney simulilo

    God is In control

  42. GK

    MR PRESIDENT SIR I GREET YOU
    PLEASE SIR ALLOW ME TO GIVE YOU A WORD OF ADVISE, SIR I MAY BE YOUNG BUT MY ADVISE CAN CONTRABUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS COUNTY,
    SIR YOU MAYBE A PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA OR BEING RICH SICK THE KINGDOM OF GOD, ZAMBIA CAN BE A CHRISTIAN NATIONAL BUT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOUR GOVERNMENT IS TOTALY WRONG ,DON’T DISTROY THE LEGANCY OF PF PEOPLE LOVES THIS GOVERNMENT AS A REMEMBELANCE OF MICHEAL SATA, MR PRESIDENT YOU ARE A DEDICATE PRESIDENT GIVEN US BY GOD APPROVED BY HEAVEN AND EARTH TO READY THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA BUT PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR YOU ARE SUFFERING ESPECIALLY US YOUNTH PLEASE LOOK UPON US AS YOUR CHILDREN, YOU ARE LIKE MOSES IN THE BIBLE, MR PRESIDENT SIR PLEASE WE NEED PRAYERS FOR THIS NATIONAL SO ALLOW THE WISE MAN PROPHETY TB JOSHUEL TO PRAYE FOR THIS COUNTY, INVITE HIM ON 18TH OCTOBER AS ZAMBIA WILL BE OBSERVING NATIONAL PRAYE, THE COMING OF GREAT MAN OF GOD THE MOST SENIOR PROPHETY OF THIS CENTURY ZAMBIA WILL BE DELIVERED FROM THE HAND OF EVIL MEN SORROUNDIND YOUR GOVERNMENT, WE LOVE YOU MR PRESIDENT TELL YOUR MPS TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR THEM ESPECIALLY KAFWAYA MP IN LUNTE WHO HAS NEVER BEEN VISTED THE AREA SINCE WE VOTED FOR HIM,WE NEED JOBS HERE AS YOUNTH, SINCE THE CREATION OF LUNTE DISTRICT NOTHING HAS COME OUT OF IT, NO JOB CREATION HAS SO FAR MADE WE JUST SEE VEHICLES COMING WITH DRIVERS BUT WE HAVE ALOT OF DRIVERS HERE, WHAT IS HAPPENING?

  43. Job

    Mr Phiri this is not new and only happening to you .I have been in this business for nearly 20 plus years .Check how many times the Government through the Forestry department suspended concessions of timber miller maybe Ten times in my 20 years operations. In the end we have lost businesses and closed check how many Timber mills are closed in all provincial capitals. But what has the Government achieve in these years of timber suspensions nothing Timber is still being cut Who is exporting this timber selected Chinese friends. In Mansa who is buying the mukula? Why let Zaffico sell the timber they have no knowledge on hardwood timber when they are falling to Manage the Pine plantation see how many big timber companies closed on the Copperbelt. Mr Phiri good luck to you but you are not alone. I doubt if you will receive any answer
    Some people are benefiting on this timber
    So don’t expect them to protect you

  44. Honest zambian

    Tears for my country, where are we heading to ? We need change………kanonga bena, selfish parents by zagaze…..shame on you

  45. Te munobe

    This is Zambia my friend. Its time the Government benefited from u, they sponsored your education and the only way of getting their money back is convincing u to invest in the country then grab your investment. Unless u n me become leaders in this country, nothing will change. We have seen professors being reduced to cadres, rich men reduced to ashes, leslie mbula, emmanuel kasonde, BY etc smashed by govt. Just start something else which does not depend much on policy coz our govt policies change overnight. Above all, Lets arise n change Govt n we the young people should take over. Why should the less educated lead us? The visionless, the boreman Lusambo, kampyongo, vincent mwale? We need u in the diaspora to be leaders

  46. kapenta na beans

    My brother Phiri its quiet sad to read your story….it is sad that an industry as big as the timber one has gone to sleep due to few selfish individuals.this is an industry which is very close to people in the rural areas,in the remotest of our country its where timber operations are carried out.its an industry next to agriculture in terms of income generation to the most less privileged in our rural Zambia…i note with sadness to see a rural empowering industry die like that…quiet painful…this industry would have provided solutions to the much needed income to the youth folk&women in the most under developed area.Mr Phiri we are with you in this unforeseen circumstances.i hope your letter gets consideration

  47. Peter Mfundeni

    It is unfortunate that your business is down,trust in God and we all pray to God to intervene,if all what you have told us is true and that your papers are genuine then our President will bail you out.He is a listening president.

  48. Bruno mars the moonshine jungle

    hee

  49. Toyota future

    boo

  50. james

    Boss don’t worst time this government is useless and lack of hard working…looking from the point of view the don’t even anrs the court case why worst time..life is a circle.let them enjoy before it reaches the ending point..

  51. kwakama nehi

    God has seen the wickedness & jealousy of men in Zambia.The govt is not bad but pipo working in it are very bad indeed.Therefore given everything written to God in prayer for he will Neva leave or forsake thru such hard times.All these are temptations by yo side.

  52. Latimar

    Indeed Mr president kindly look into that account

  53. Latimar

    Indeed Mr president kindly look into that account
    Thank you

  54. Mulenga Mulenga

    my brother that is really sad, it is really unfortunate to see hw bad things hav gone in jst a few years, corruption has crept into the politics of dis country, to make matters worse we hav pappets lik kelvin mulenga who hav lost direction

  55. Mulenga Mulenga

    dont b deceived dat de president is goin to help you willingly, they were probably tryin to enrich themselves nd you were caught in de cross fire

  56. Gregory chingwe

    Would you blame us for not returning???? These whacko govts destroy people’s lives. I am so furious now. I feel for you brother Phiri. Sad….

  57. chalo

    Comment.Mr phiri wellcome back 2 zambia the country of no laws.De president u running 2 is de same commander in chief of zambia army de people who arrested yo workers,soldiers dont get orders civilains bt 2 commander in chief,my brother open yo eyes n start thinking of something else 2 do.Even if u take them 2 court hw many court orders this government has mis regarded including de president himself,they hv done that countless times.mo wen it involves (mukula tree) that tree is a big business in china they wont let u do de business its in de hands of jean kapata every zambian knows this.N jean kapata reports 2 someone big they now call him de Great from a humble one,my question 2 u my bro is Y soldiers,were is council police.Forest police. o zambia police?Once mo wellcome home my brother

  58. Hano ha mavu kheke yauchi

    At a time when we are advocating for local investors rather than foreign investors only, such a happening makes a very sad reading indeed.

  59. Joe mutale

    Zambians are not suporttive.
    Thats da reason thy do not develop

  60. karlmarx

    something must be clear,, was the true timber or mukula tree?

  61. Chikoz Chiks Chiz in one Name

    I don’t know why in Zambia we belittling others. Foreign Investors are just mere people like Zambians. Why do we respect Foreign Investors more than our own? It’s like having insulting your own “Biological” children whilst praising your neighbour’s.This is foolish and nonsensical. I wonder if Zambia can develop. That’s why, you are campaigning for poverty reduction and yet owing from others, surely can you overcome? I’m sorry, Zambia twasebana.

  62. sanle

    Wala iwe

  63. tutor

    Well sir am sorry indeed your letter went to the wrong man who is deaf working under no direction.

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