NGOs ask Lungu to fire ministers over $1 m global fund theft

NGOs ask Lungu to fire ministers over $1 m global fund theft

Note: Chitalu Chilufya was Deputy Minister at Ministry of Health from 2014-2016 when the medicine crime was committed

Seven civil society organisatins in Zambia have asked President edgar Lungu to fire his ministers that have failed to show leadership in the management of public resurces.

According to a statement released in Lusaka this morning on the Global Fund report which has revealed rampant abuse of public resources in the health sector, the organisations wondered why Lungu was failing to discipline his appointees.

The organisations include the Zambia Counsel for Social Development, Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, and Alliance for Community Action.

Others are Transparency International Zambia, Action Aid Zambia, the Centre for Trade Policy and Development, and CUTS International.

They further questioned Lungu’s morality in claiming that he was fighting corruption when in fact not.

“It is clear that the Ministry of Health was negligent in its duty to prudently manage resources entrusted to it for the Zambian people. Why must you parade the media and tell them that the president is categorical and clear on the fight against theft when we are receiving scandal after scandal, report after report and nothing is being done?” the statement read in part.

“If the ministers are not firing their negligent controlling officers, we urge the President to fire those ministers whose ministries are being cited for mischief in order to assert that he indeed will not tolerate theft. It is barely a couple of days ago when we received the Auditor General’s report on Local Authorities which revealed that over 14 million kwacha of Constituency Development Funds (CDF) was misapplied.

Before that there was yet another Auditor General’s report on Parastatals which was equally damning. Before that we had the main 2016 Auditor General’s report with yet another gloomy picture for the Zambians. Amidst all that we have the Mukula tree scandal, $42million fire trucks, $ 288,000 ambulance purchase scandal, the $1.2 billion dual courage way. What is going on in this country? Where is the so called ‘working government’?”

The organisations stated that they were not seeing any work being done where safeguarding public resources was concerned, other than the rhetorical speeches the public had been subjected to.

The civil society organisations stated that police were equally not doing anything to protect public resources.

“It is not enough for the government to issue a statement seeking redress by shifting the blame on the supply chain. The misuse of global funds as outlined in the 2018 investigations report by the Global Fund where HIV test kits were stolen is worth a staggering US$416, 379. This is a clear lack of concern among the duty bearers that have been tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding the resources meant for Zambian citizens,” the statement read further.

“Furthermore we are dismayed that this is happening when we have a Minister of Health who is a medical practitioner and has two Permanent Secretaries to provide checks and balances. They are further charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all systems and procedures in the Ministry of Health and other partners such as Medical Stores Limited are functioning well. This situation begs the question, ‘if the Ministry of Health can allow over $4miilion worth of expired drugs what other anomalies has the ministry kept from the Zambian people?’. Mind you this is the same ministry which had another huge scandal of theft of donor funds a couple of years ago.”

The organisations urged Lungu to take full responsibility for all the mischief.

They stated that it was not right to have a government that rejoiced in scandals, instead of stopping them or punishing the culprits.

“Our appeal goes to the President of this country Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to take responsibility of what is happening in his government and be more responsible and safe guard tax payer’s money. The easiest short term measure for the president is to fire erring ministers and permanent secretaries before we as a country, lose the little faith that our cooperating partners have in us,” read the statement.

“The people of Zambia will not be hoodwinked into paying for costs to the nation that could clearly have been avoided if systems and procedures were in place. Further, one wonders why the President and the Ministry of Health has been silent on this issue even after the Audit report in 2017 was presented to the Ministry of Health. This will affect a lot of issues including the implementation of the National Health Insurance Bill. It will bring into question the issue of compliance as there has been misuse tax payers’ money and donor funds by allowing this to happen.”

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