United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has wondered why Information and Broadcasting Minister Chishimba Kambwili says the inclusion of Deputy Ministers in cabinet meetings did not add any extra costs.
And Hichilema has said that the party was studying the legality of the inclusion of Deputy and Provincial Ministers in cabinet meetings.
Kambwili has tried to defend the move by arguing that Deputy Ministers do not get sitting allowances but just attend as observers to the deliberations.
But Hichilema argued that the move will increase expenses because Provincial Ministers have to drive to Lusaka four times in a month for the weekly cabinet meetings.
‘Imagine Deputy Ministers driving from Luapula and Western Provinces with drivers and possibly extra entourages every week just to observe,’ Hichilema wondered.
He pointed out that further extra costs will be incurred on lodging, fuel and travel allowances at a time when civil servants were not receiving their salaries.
Hichilema said in the hard economic times the country was facing every coin served would be critical for social services like provision of drugs to hospitals.
He stressed that it would be cheaper to provide the Deputy Ministers with copies of cabinet minutes than for them to drive to Lusaka every week just to observe deliberations.
Hichilema wondered whether the inclusion of Deputy Ministers in cabinet meetings was one of the global issues that the PF keeps referring to each time the opposition raises issues of cutting down costs.
He charged that civil servants should not be blamed for rejecting minimal salary increments because they are clearly seeing how the government was wasting money.
And Hichilema has said that the party was studying the legality of the inclusion of deputy and provincial ministers in cabinet meetings.
He said his team was fully studying whether the law has not been broken adding that the PF was good at taking tax-payers for granted because they probably know that no one will question them.
When President Lungu assumed office early this year he indicated that he was considering changing the law (constitution) to allow Deputy Ministers be part of cabinet meetings. The PF government has however decided to include the Deputy Ministers without making any changes to the law.