A Parliamentary decision to approve First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba’s K1.5 billion budgetary allocation displays the highest levels of hypocricy in Zambian President Michael Sata’s so called crusade against corruption.
There are a lot of questions that beg answers following this development but most paramount would be, what is this K1.5 billion for? Is it that Dr Kaseba has some unfinished business with alangizi (marriage counsellors)? But that will be an outrageous payment to access those services.
Agreed, Dr Kaseba is not a State House employee. Her office is not provided for under the current constitution. The closest she comes to accessing government funds – our hard earned tax payer – is through her distinguished profession and occupation at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) as a physician.
And for someone who knows, or may be is expected to know, the extent to which many Zambians are suffering from poverty across the country through her job, Dr Kaseba could have done better to contain her greed.
Unfortunately, this is not the Dr Kaseba, whose husband – President Sata – postured as the man of the poor people. If they genuinely stood for the poor, they would have done something different not to their benefit but the general populace.
President Sata and his wife are doing the exact opposite, if not worse than the other four State House couples before them.
In fact, only the respected late Mama Betty Kaunda and Thandiwe Banda will proudly walk their heads high without creating some sort of organizations that are only conduits for corrupt activities in the name of First Lady whatever charity they call them.
Vera Tembo-Chiluba came with Hope Foundation. Where is it? A shell of its former self. Mama Maureen Mwanawasa came with MMCI. Where is it? It’s on the path to oblivion.
And Dr Kaseba has also come with Ubutala Bwabumi. Where will it headed? Your guess is as good as mine.
It is bad enough to create a Lazarous project in the name of helping the needy in society when it is a conduit for corrupt activities but further drawing into taxpayers money for unconstitutional offices constitutes an organised crime.
Never in the history of this country has there been such a criminal activity as an allocation of the First Lady’s office in the budget. Here, work is voluntary and should not be a burden on government coffers. Being First Lady does not make Dr Kaseba an employee of the government neither did Zambians vote for her, it is the husband.
Today, President Sata can decide to divorce her and take in another woman as he holds a brilliant field in that area and there will be a new First Lady.
As the First Lady at State House, there is enough allocation to run the affairs of Nkwazi House. Now, other than getting a salary from the Ministry of Health, she will be paid, again, through this budgetary allocation. Then how else can one call it? Is this not a crime? Are these not criminals?
But this is the President Sata who sees nothing wrong with this when he saw it all wrong the time Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda were in charge of the instruments of power.
Mwanawasa and Rupiah did not have budgetary allocation for their wives. Their wives never used the Presidential challenger jet but Michael, to generously borrow from his image builders at The Post, never rested.
In fact, he would never even allow people like Maureen to comment on national issues or respond to his verocious attacks on the first family. He sarcastically and rudely told Maureen to consult alangizi.
His general secretary Wynter Kabimba went to court to block mere donations by Thandiwe Banda from going on.
Today, the champions of clean governance are the most dirty apostles of the corruption fight masquerading as angels.
They were fierce champions of the corruption fight but can’t see anything wrong with the blatant disregard of the constitution – the supreme law of the land.
Instead, they have become demons of corruption abetting the vice with impunity.
When winding up the debate on the budget, Vice-President Guy Scott claimed there were no illegalities in allocating money to the First Lady’s office.
In Dr Scott’s view, allocating some amount of money to Dr Kaseba was a way of enhancing transparency.
Dr Scott, an otherwise intelligent and candid politician, is wrong in the hope of protecting his boss. His submission to Parliament on this one lacked merit.
Dr Kaseba’s office as First Lady is not a constitutional office that should draw from national coffers. It’s actually morally wrong for Dr Kaseba to deprive the same cancer victims she is purporting to represent.
Look at the University Teaching Hospital! Cancer patients sleep on the floor due to congestion, they sometimes take ages to access quality medical attention and access to medicine is more or less zero. Why not take the K1.5 billion towards improving UTH than furnishing Dr Kaseba’s office and fattening her allowances each time she jumps on the challenger?
Are these the people who claimed to be for the poor? Their action speaks far much opposite of what they preached when in opposition. That is why opposition MPs walked out when the allocation was approved via a 65-44 vote.
UPND Kalomo MP Request Muntanga aptly put it this way; Dr Kaseba’s office cannot be allocated funds because there is no structure to support it. “How is she going to be supervised? This is the first time this is happening in the history of Zambia,” he said.
His MMD counterpart Catherine Namugala for Mafinga echoed those sentiments saying the office of the First Lady is not a constitutional office.
In fact, Namugala said allocating funds to an office that does not exist constitutionally is tantamount to creating “a slush fund’’.
“Why do you want to recognise it and provide for it? Are you trying to create slush funds? You are making the First Lady unpopular because we will know when she travels that she is using our money,” she said.
The former community development and tourism minister said recognition of the First Lady is through the President who holds the constitutional office.
If this is a listening government as President Sata claims, this allocation must be reversed and channeled towards the needy areas in society not creating another Emelda Marcos whose pre-occupation will be the wardrobe in the guise of helping cancer patients who so dearly need that K1.5 billion more than Dr Kaseba’s office which can still adequately function on State House funding and donations as the case has been in the past.
Therefore, Dr Kaseba does not need that K1.5 billion for her office unless she tells us she still has some unfinished business with alangizi who, in this case, are demanding some outrageous fees. The Zambian taxpayers, for the sake of State House dignity, can afford to foot a bill for alangizi on behalf of Dr Kaseba but that K1.5 billion is plainly out of this world for those services.
Anyway, this is what Zambians asked for; a President who will increase his salary by 100 percent at midnight, start constructing his retirement house before exiting office, manage the multi-billion road projects so that his friends get favours and run down the country with impunity.