FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says President Edgar Lungu is using State House as a playboy mansion where he can play hide-and-seek with state security by sneaking out to nightclubs to drink.
And Mwanza says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda’s revelation that some ministers were using money meant for other programmes to satisfy their desire for foreign trips, is an admission that theft has been accepted in the PF administration.
Mwanza said the President had no time to deal with real issues and problems which finance minister Alexander exposed on TV last Sunday because he was preoccupied with entertainment.
“President Edgar Lungu has no time for such serious issues. The things he has time for is sneaking out to drink and wondering which country he will travel to and which plane he will hire and which suit he will hire and which song he will dance to. These are the things that preoccupy him – entertainment,” Mwanza said.
“That’s why when he was elected into office, he immediately started going round as a knife boy, cutting independence cakes for other countries. And he has said himself that he feels dejected now that he is surrounded by State House walls and security, so he finds it difficult to sneak out and go and have merry time in bars. That’s himself telling us and it hurts us as citizens. We are hurting while he is dancing because it seems to him, State House is just a playboy mansion where he can play hide-and-seek with his security.”
Appearing on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Chikwanda appealed to ministers to cut down on foreign trips because they were causing controlling officers to ‘cannibalise’ other vaults meant for needy areas.
“If I travel or any minister, you give them $500 per diem per day, translate that especially at today’s exchange rate, it comes to about K6,000 per day… I wish we could see a situation where you could see a controlling officer is taken to task for having allowed expenditure beyond what is budgeted for because what happens on this case of travel, by the first quarter, the vault on travel has been exhausted. So what those controlling officers are doing in order to sustain their travel and the travel of their ministers and other officials, they cannibalise other vaults. They move vaults from other areas and take it to travel. It is misdirection,” said Chikwanda.
But Mwanza said Chikwanda’s statement was a revelation that senior government officials who are engaged in theft have been left unpunished.
“Mr Chikwanda is an honest, honourable man despite being incompetent. What Chikwanda has revealed is that the President is aware that there is misapplication of public resources meant for programmes to help the poor and that money is being diverted into travelling. That is theft and Edgar Lungu is aware of it. His Minister of Finance has confessed that this is what’s going on,” Mwanza said.
“That per diem which they are giving themselves is what we call institutionalised theft. It’s institutionalised corruption that is going on because Edgar Lungu has no vision, no programme and no commitment to serve the Zambian people. If he had, he would have been the first one to say ‘how do we cut on unnecessary government expenditure and one of the key issues is these unnecessary trips where people steal through per diem and travel allowances.”
He said the Auditor General should conduct an audit and give the Zambian people a report of which officers have been misapplying funds.
“[President] Edgar [Lungu] and his government have institutionalised theft and the auditor general has to do an audit. We are demanding that there should be a forensic audit by the Auditor General so that we should find out who has been misapplying this money which is meant for other programmes. That is misapplication of resources and it is a criminal offence which attracts a jail term. So it is not enough for the minister to say this is what is happening. We are demanding an audit,” Mwanza said.
“The challenge we have is that this is a President who condones and abets corruption. This is why any public official who has been arrested for stealing from the public has been pardoned. He entertains corruption…. This issue should not be taken as a simple issue. It is a criminal offence under the Laws of Zambia.”
He charged that the PF had no code of conduct.
“When Chikwanda was asked on TV if the misapplication of funds was discussed in Cabinet, he said people must just use their conscience; that is mistake number one. You don’t run a government on the goodwill of individuals. A government must be run on clear policy, clear legal framework, on clear ethics and clear code of conduct. You cannot leave public money to the goodwill of people and say they will apply their conscience. No one will do that. It is clear that in the PF, there is no code of conduct. It is clear that in PF, it is sangwapo.”