Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale says the treasury is unable to release Constituency Development Funds or pay contractors because of the Cholera epidemic.
Speaking when he featured on Hot Fm’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Mwale explained that his ministry had not received CDF because government had agreed that resources be utilised to fight cholera because it was an emergency.
“When we say diverted, it is not like these funds were released to these respective ministries for them to spend. In the case of CDF (Constituency Development Fund), it is not like Ministry of Finance released the funds for CDF and then we decided we are going to divert the funds to CDF, I mean as a matter of fact, Ministry of Local Government has not spent any ngwee on this disease because we have got Ministry of Health which has a budget line, we have got DMMU which has a budget line. We have taken leadership yes in some of the things that have happened. So Ministry of Finance never released CDF to local government for local government to divert that fund to cholera,” Mwale explained.
“What has happened and I was going to explain this to the media, perhaps I didn’t do very well or we didn’t understand it very well. I was saying that Ministry of Finance could not release CDF because they had pressing issues to deal with such as cholera and perhaps e-voucher. Before the end of the year, Ministry of Finance was going to fund us for CDF. We got some money in May and we got a bit more in November and we managed to fund all constituencies at least half and begun to top-up on funding to constituencies. So we expected that we were going to get a bit more money before the end of the year and pay all constituencies the full amount. Now we were all queuing up to the Treasury, we all looking for funds from the Treasury and the Treasury saw Cholera as an emergency and e-voucher obviously as an emergency and therefore could not give some ministries what they needed, for example ourselves for CDF. So when we say divert, it isn’t like we got the money and then we used it on Cholera, no! But we never received the money because the treasury had to deal with Cholera.”
Mwale also said payment to contractors had been suspended because of Cholera.
“And that could have been the case with the toll gates that maybe they suspended payment to contractors and first of all then deal with an emergency because it is very clear that the Treasury released K64 million or so, as announced by Dr Chilufya for us to fight this epidemic. So some of that money could have gone to CDF and some of that money could have gone to contractors. But they thought we needed to save lives first and make sure that everything was in order,” he said.
Mwale explained what Mwale was spending on.
“Yes, we are doing vaccinations now, there has to be some bit of expenditure towards that. We have to make sure that the medical personnel are in the field, they have got transport, they have got fuel, they have got everything and right now government is paying for free water for people in the epicentres. People in Garden are not paying for water. We have increased access first of all, government has had to pay, we have put up close to 200 water points, government has had to pay and these things are not coming from well wishers. I will tell you what comes from well wishers,” he said.
“Now government is actually paying Lusaka Water and Sewerage this money so that the company doesn’t go down…But now, above that, we have got well-wishers who are coming on board and say we can help you with bins, we can help you with chlorine and right now, yesterday we received a call from Trade Kings and said they have began to manufacture chlorine in Zambia, they begun yesterday and they will flood us with free chlorine that we must distribute. We are not going buy this and this is a huge donation. They are actually saying that you need to look for big warehouses where you can store this because we are going to give you all the chlorine you need to fight this problem.”
He also updated the nation of the latest cholera cases as of Wednesday.
“In the last 24 hours, 85 people have got infected in Lusaka bringing the total to 2, 840 and three people outside Lusaka bringing the cumulative total to 2, 983. And we had three community deaths unfortunately in the last 24 hours and now these are people that die from communities or homes and are brought in dead but upon check-up you discover they died of cholera and because they never got any medical attention. Unfortunately, this happened in the last 24 hours,” said Mwale.