Zambian youth activist, Gregory Chifire says as Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, President Edgar Lungu must never allow the defence wing to be used in covering up corruption activities.
Chifire was commenting on an incident where some Zambia National Service officers were deployed to provide escort to trucks which were ferrying suspected illegal Mukula logs last week.
And Chifire also expressed shock that the Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary took the responsibility of explaining and defending the transaction.
“The PF should never use the defence forces to cover up corruption. The security wings are the sacred part of the State which should never at any time be dragged into issues of corruption and malpractices. It is disappointing that the whole PS for the Ministry of Defence could go and justify an act of corruption which the whole country is aware of. We all know that the issue of mukula trading has been a preserve of those that are wielding authority, a preserve of those that move in the corridors of power together with their children,” Chifire observed.
“I wish to ask the Defence Permanent Secretary to: (I) Tell the people of Zambia what those trucks were doing at JJ Banda’s yard in Chinika area because that yard does not belong to ZAFFICO. (II) Since he has pontificated himself as a spokesperson for ZAFFICO, let the Defence PS tell us or show us the bank account through which the moneys were deposited by the supposed buyer or buyers of that mukula tree. We also wish to ask the spokesperson for ZAFFICO, Mr Sturdy Mwale to show us, since ZAFFICO is a body corporate, it must have paid the transporters, let him show us the account or documentation through which they paid the transporters to transport mukula tree. We know that every business transaction there is paper trail and Zambians are very much in a hurry and anxious to see the paper trail concerning this transaction.”
He said it was surprising that the transportation of Mukula logs involved such serious security detail when the transportation of copper, which is more valuable did not need such high-powered escort.
“It is very surprising that transporting mukula tree should involve such levels of security when we have been transporting copper to private entities. Even ZCCM that was then part of a parastatal used to transport copper but there has never been such security accompanying trucks that are transporting copper. How come? because copper is more valuable than mukula. We are also aware that this same joint operation commission has been a conduit for illegally exporting mukula. If this mukula is really done in a transparent manner, why transport it it in the night? Why involve such security detail?” he wondered.
“And when did ZAFFICO announce that they were doing an open auction for mukula tree? Because many people could have loved to participate but we know as much as they do that the people who are in government are the ones that are involved in trading in mukula, that is why the youths were unhappy. And what the youths have done is just a tip of an iceberg. In Mr Edgar Lungu’s government, corruption is more pronounced than development. Every day its corruption. Corruption in mukula, in the procurement of oil, in the construction of roads, in procurement of ambulances and fire tenders. When are we going to have a break?”
He said President Lungu must give Zambians a better deal in 2018.
“In 2018, Mr Lungu should look back and give us a better deal. Or else as Zambians, we will simply ask for his resignation because the man has simply failed. All we have is corruption everywhere. He has failed to provide leadership. Even this mukula saga will go quiet, that is why some people suspect that perhaps he may be involved also. Some people have even gone to an extent of suspecting that even some of his family members are involved because the man is quiet. We need leadership in this country. We are tired of mediocrity, we are tired of stories of corruption. We need a change we need a better deal,” he said.
Chifire warned President Lungu that if he does not stop the rot in government, he may fail to finish his term of office.
“And if they are not careful, I should remind them that Dr Kenneth Kaunda did not finish his term in 1991, pressure from the public forced him to call for an election. And the same pressure from the public can still come because people are not happy. If he is not careful people will rise to force him and his government to resign. But God forbid, we are peace-loving Zambians. We are not going to use any illegal means the only way we know is through legality,” said Chifire.
“But I think the President and his team are taking Zambians for a ride. We want a report on this mukula tree, we want it to be brought to a conclusion since we were told yesterday that a joint team of whatever they call themselves finished investigations, may that report be made available to the public because those are our things. They don’t belong to state house, to Mr Lungu and company, they don’t belong to his family, they belong to us so we want to know the outcome of that investigation. As far as we are concerned there is malpractice, there is corruption, there is blatant theft.”