Vice-President Inonge Wina says those cited in the Auditor General’s report will be arrested.
And Vice-President Wina says it is up to Zambians to judge UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s morality considering that he chose to invest in a tax haven instead of locally.
Responding to a question from Itezhi-tezhi UPND member of parliament Hebert Shabula, who wanted to find out government’s position on the financial irregularities exposed in the Auditor General’s report for the year ended 2016, Vice-President Wina said for the first time, people would see arrests.
“Mr Speaker, the Auditor General’s report year in year out has come out with the indictment of public workers misappropriating government funds and the President has been very categorical on this particular report of 2015/16 in that the investigative wings of government will delve into this matter and I can assure you that perhaps for the first time in a long time we going to see some arrests of officers who misused government funds,” Vice-President Wina said.
And responding to a question from Kaputa PF member of parliament Maxas Ng’onga, who wanted to find out if HH had been declaring the correct figures of his wealth during elections, the Vice-President said HH decided to invest his wealth overseas so that he could avoid paying tax because he did not want his own people to benefit from everything he owned.
“Mr Speaker, it may be a challenge for a leader to make a declaration on assets that are stashed away in an offshore account for one simple reason that offshore accounts are kept to accumulate more income, to hide money so that the country of origin does not benefit from that huge sums of money. Mr Speaker, this money is usually moved in a private account and it is mainly for purposes of accumulation of more funds and also to hide money to evade tax. Mr Speaker, this is why governments globally have taken keen interest on these types of transactions which are not transparent to ensure that nationals pay tax in their countries of origin and Mr Speaker it is for this reason that the Paradise papers have generated such interest throughout the world to expose the very rich who are not able to pay taxes in their countries but they hide money in the offshore accounts,” she said.
Vice-President Wina alleged that government was aware that money invested in offshore accounts was often associated with criminal and other questionable activities; adding that Zambians should judge HH’s morality when considering him for the presidency.
“Mr Speaker, in some countries, tax evasion is a crime which is taken very seriously. In all countries, the central bank and the Ministry of Finance always take interest in these matters. So it is for the people of Zambia to judge the morality of some of our leaders [on] what they do, how they conduct their personal affairs, how they conduct public affairs, their businesses whether it is for the benefit of the country, it is for the people to judge Mr Speaker. So how then can a leader make a declaration with monies of this type? Because there is no transparency whatsoever. Mr Speaker, additionally, there are issues connected to offshore accounts, we know that in some countries this money has been connected to illicit activities such as money laundering, terrorism, promoting or funding of mercenaries to distabilise countries as well as actually disposing legitimate governments. So there are many activities tied to these offshore accounts which governments in the world including Zambia should be interested in. I thank you Sir,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Wina said it was unfair for Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili to allege King Mswati’s was not aimed at strengthening the brotherly relationship that Zambia shared with the Kingdom of Swaziland but that it was a business visit.
“Madam Vice-President, at first value we were told that King Mswati came on a private visit to cement and improve on brotherly relations [between Zambia and the Kingdom of Swaziland] but we are reliably informed that he came to cut a deal to bring a fourth mobile operator and that some technocrates were flown to Mfuwe to discuss this issue. Can you assure this House that in the near future, we will not be told that King Mswati’s company has been given the license to bring a fourth mobile operator against Vodafone who are already here and have been trying to get a license?” asked Kambwili.
But in her response, the Vice-President expressed disappointment at Kambwili for speaking like someone who never understood how government worked.
“Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Roan has been part of this government. He has been a minister and a minister of foreign affairs for that matter so he knows how these are done, so the issue that the honourable member is talking about is new to me, I am not aware of this deal and I know that when a King or President of another country visits Zambia, that is the highest level of tourism attraction that you can get in the country and we should be thankful instead of starting to castigate him for why he was here and some of these things Mr Speaker should really be investigated further than just coming up with accusations which cannot be substantiated,” said Vice-President Wina.
“This country is open to mobile communications service providers and the doors are open to other companies to come in so that we can have a competitive ground so that the privacy of mobile service provision in the country goes down but to start castigating even the Head of State from another country on hearsay is not really in the best interest of our country. We are trying to develop good neighborliness and the country has seen more visitations of Heads of State simply because Zambia is a peaceful country despite the alignment by certain quarters but this country enjoys enjoys peace and the region appreciates it and Africa as a whole appreciates the peace that they see in this country. Let’s keep it that way Mr Speaker I thank you.”