Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo says it is illogical to label ministers corrupt because they are not controlling officers who handle money.
Debating the budgetary allocation to the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday, Prof Luo said ministers, often times, did not even know whether or not money had been received from the Treasury.
“I hope honorable Chishimba Kambwili is listening to me because he is a former minister of government we all know. For me, I have served three Presidents, I am on my sixth ministry now, I don’t know of any minister in any government who sits and receives finances from the Ministry of Finance,” Prof Luo said.
“This is why the permanent secretary is called a controlling officer. It is a permanent secretary who in fact knows the amount of money that is coming into the ministry. My role regarding the budget of my ministry ends today or tomorrow when I defend the budget of the Ministry of Higher Education,” Prof Luo said.
She said ministers don’t even know when the ministry has received funding.
“Many times as a minister you don’t even know when money comes into the ministry, when it finishes, you are only told by the PS that ‘minister, this activity cannot be done because we do not have money’. It is not my role as minister to be interested in the monies that are coming into the ministry. Secondly, no minister that I know of ever seats on a procurement committee. Even you as a minister when you want to ask why things are delayed, we are told that ‘we shall remain here, you will go, so don’t touch things which are not your preserve.”
She accused opposition members of parliament of trying to use the House to settle old scores.
“People who have the desire to settle old scores come to this House and abuse this House to settle old scores and I think that is not right. Just because you are sitting on that other side of the House, it doesn’t make you clean. In fact, I can tell you that if you are a member of parliament or a minister, does not mean that because you hold that position you are corrupt. In fact, the people that are corrupt are not even known. And what we should be telling Anti Corruption Commission is that can they step up their job and be able to follow up on issues that are being raised. Even some of you who are saying uhhh, some of your leaders are on record to have been doing things which have made them wealthy and if we really had to follow up corruption, is corruption. So don’t come to this House and be champions and start demeaning your colleagues,” said Prof Luo.
“You are not going to ursup power by maligning people. You should wait for the elections in 2021 and let the best man or woman win. This House is not going to make you win elections because even as you say Zambians are watching, Zambians are also listening to you…I don’t know of anybody on this side of the House who has put money offshore and is evading tax and again this is a document that is in public domain. If that is not corruption then I don’t know what we are talking about.
If we start abusing the privileges that we have to come to this House and start settling scores, I am afraid you are just putting yourselves in the doldrums because when elections come, you all have to account for what you do.”
She encouraged the ACC not to be swayed by “some disgruntled political leaders”.
“I would like to encourage the Anti Corruption Commission to do their job diligently. They should never follow perceptions that have been created by disgruntled political leaders who have not won elections and they use this platform through their members of parliament to start maligning others. Leave us alone and leave us to be able to serve this country diligently,” said Prof Luo.