TOURISM Minister Charles Banda last week draw thousands of dollars from the depleted national treasury to go shopping in Germany under the false pretext that he was attending the Internationale Tourismus-Börse, the world’s largest tourism fair when Zambia was not participating.
Sources in the Ministry of Tourism told the Zambian Watchdog that to justify his travel to Berlin for the fair which was held between March 8th and 12th, the Minister tried to hide behind the Botswana stand.
“We had the ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin)which is the world’s largest tourism trade fair. The companies represented at the fair include hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies.)
“Zambia decided not to take part because of budget constraint therefore the Zambian Embassy didn’t have a stand at the fair. A few days before the fair the Minister (Charles Banda) called the embassy that he was going to travel because he had been cleared by the President, but the embassy was not ready and they informed the Minister that this year ‘we don’t have a budget for ITB and we do not have a stand only individual private companies from Zambia are taking part and they make their own arrangements,” said the source.
According to the source, the Minister however insisted that he would travel and directed that the accounts department in his Ministry raised his per diem and that of his permanent secretary Ms. Leah Mutale to travel to German.
“It was so embarrassing because when the Minister arrived he was not recognized and then, then he asked if he could be at the Botswana stand because initially Zambia was supposed to partner with Botswana, and they also they refused.
“The guy ended up having meetings, which he pressured the embassy to organize in hasty ,at a Zambian private stand. He and his PS where half the time shopping because they had nothing to do. The fair finished early most Ministers left on Friday, March 10,” said the source.
“Just imagine how much of the tax payers money those crooks have wasted. This pure theft my a man who is supposed to be a people’s servant. The Minister was fully aware that he was not supposed to be in Germany and yet he travelled,” said the source
The source said Parliament ought to question the Minister why he travelled when he actually had no business to do in that country yet huge taxpayers money was spent.
“By the way he is leaving for Kenya on Thursday this week again, when does he work ? Do we really need a minister in his place? And on what basis did the President authorize his travel?