President Edgar Lungu must stop running Zambia like a Casino and fire those involved in the New York scandal, says Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba.
And Kabimba says President Lungu must stop carrying party officials on international trips like they are going for a disco.
Reacting to a News Diggers! investigation which uncovered extravagant government spending on President Lungu’s international trips, Kabimba said it was clear that the Head of State had turned the Treasury into a personal wallet.
“If this one is an example of the average trips he has taken, firstly, from our viewpoint as the Rainbow Party, this kind of expenditure does not come from somebody like Edgar Lungu who believes that he is leading a poor country, a third world country which is poor. A third world country where people cannot access medical care, where children cannot access educational opportunities, the youth cannot access employment opportunities, it actually reflects a Head of State who is indifferent to the suffering of his people. It doesn’t matter what Amos Chanda says, the buck stops at the President. If the President is going to have people around him that can spend this amount of money, people that are irresponsible, then he is also an irresponsible leader and an irresponsible President. The people around him can only do this if they believe that he would do it or he himself is doing it or he acquiesces to it, he agrees to this kind of extravagance in his government,” Kabimba said.
“He has turned the Treasury into his personal Treasury, exactly what Jacob Zuma was doing in South Africa. There is no difference between what Jacob Zuma was doing in South Africa, where he turned the National Treasury into his personal Treasury. Denials from State House will not help the situation. If Edgar Lungu is not part of this, then we want to see him fire those that are responsible. If he doesn’t take any action against those that are supposed to be responsible, according to his press secretary, then he is responsible himself…He is not running a Casino, he is running a country and he must be serious about running this country.
He said the end of President Lungu’s reign would be as disastrous as that of Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma because he was allowing criminality under his administration.
“This is the problem that Africa has faced, and Zambia in particular – putting men and women in power, that are not honorable, that do not respect the people that they lead. This is lack of respect for the people that you lead. This is impunity, there is nothing that the people can do even if this thing came to light like it has done. This is gross impunity by the Head of State. He is saying to the Zambian people ‘I don’t care, even if you know, I am the president, I am the Head of State. I can do what I want to do’ and only an irresponsible President would do that. Only an irresponsible Head of State would do that. We saw that in Zimbabwe, we saw that in South Africa with Jacob Zuma and the end of the two leaders cannot escape Edgar if this thing is true. He can’t escape that fate of Mugabe and Zuma. It is a great pity that Edgar has not taken a leaf from the humility of Michael Sata in terms of being sensitive to the welfare of the Zambian people,” observed.
Kabimba who is former secretary general of the PF and former Justice Minister in Sata’s administration condemned the large presidential entourage.
He added that it was nonsensical for the presidency to sweep such a scandal under the carpet.
“You can’t take people that have nothing to do with the trip just for you to make them happy so that they can support you in your bid for political power. You can’t do that, that is being irresponsible. For us as Rainbow Party, we would stop this kind of thing. If I were President myself and this thing happened, I can tell you that by today, these two weeks you are talking about that you spoke to Amos Chanda and went back to him, there will be nobody in the Treasury by today. This is nonsense, this is irresponsible. This is not their money, this is people’s money!” Kabimba exclaimed.
“They can’t complete some roads and yet they can afford to spend money on things that do not benefit the Zambian people. I think African leaders are very bad students of history. He thinks what happened to Mugabe cannot happen to him? The laws of nature are the same across the world so I want to give President Lungu a challenge that if he is not part of this, we want to hear that he has taken action. If he does not take action, then he is part of this and the Zambian people can come to take him for what he is in 2021.”
Kabimba said the revelations contained in the dossier published yesterday were annoying and depressing.
“You can’t be taking people on official trips as if you are going to a disco. I remember one time with President Sata, we travelled for the AU Summit, do you know that there was a lady from Cabinet Office who was there just carrying a kama [little] bag of dollars, that’s all. She didn’t attend any meeting, she didn’t go anywhere, when we went for meetings, she remained at the Hotel just drinking coffee and when we came back, I spoke to Mr Sata, I said ‘why are you allowing this?’ and we stopped it. So I know that it can be done if the President has the will to stop it. It is clear from this story that the President doesn’t have that will,” said Kabimba.
“This business of carrying party officials, bene Sunday Chanda, to go and do what? Just to give them a treat to get on a plane? Oh my God, God save this country. This just drains me out of all the energy that I had after lunch.
According to the dossier sent by a whistleblower, detailing part of the cash transactions made on one of President Lungu’s trips to the United Nations in September 2015, the Treasury deposited over K17 million into Zanaco for various logistics, but some of it was spent on unexplained costs at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas Texas, limousine hires, dinner dance cruises and walking safaris.
The document also shows that millions were spent on shipping cargo for government officials by Air See Land shipping company of New York, a transport firm that is specialised in providing a range of moving services to the Diplomatic Community, corporate entities, individuals and government employees.
Some amounts were spent on shopping in various department stores including the International Jack’s place phone accessory shop in New York and Innovation luggage store on Broadway, New York.
State House press aide Amos Chanda said President Lungu did not go shopping in New York and neither did he go for a dance cruise or any of the suspicious activities detailed in the Treasury cash flow. He however asked for some time to study the document.
When contacted a week later, Chanda said the document could trigger an investigation if the Accountant General found that the entries were genuine and accurate.
“The President has never gone on a dance cruise, it could be some people doing that and throwing the cost on government. But I have to look at it and get back to you,” said Chanda adding, “The Accountant General came and we have been looking at that [document]. But we do not have a conclusive answer yet. We are looking for answers because certain things are true entries and certain are not. So before providing answers, Cabinet wants an investigation which may lead to disciplinary proceedings. So we cannot go in the public domain with any explanation before we know what is true [on that document] and what is not.”