Choma Central UPND members of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa has warned PF MPs to stop defending corrupt individuals over things they do not understand.
But Lunte PF member of parliament Mutowe Kafwaya, has challenged Mweetwa to state exactly what President Edgar Lungu has done to weaken institutions established to fight corruption.
Speaking the two appeared on Prime TV’s Oxygen of Democracy programme on Monday evening, Mweetwa who is also United Party for National Development (UPND) deputy spokesperson charged that President Lungu had not exhibited enough commitment towards the fight against corruption.
Mweetwa told Kafwaya during the discourse to desist from defending wrong things to please few individuals who were benefiting from corruption.
“When it comes to the issue of the fight against corruption, I speak on this issues quiet competently because I am also African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) chairperson, I think that the fight against corruption in Zambia under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu has lost momentum and speed. President Lungu has not exhibited a lot of political will in the fight against corruption. For instance, what was very saddening for me as a member of the Public Accounts Committee and APNAC chairperson a few weeks ago when we were just about to pass the Public Finance Act to strengthen public funds management in this country, President Lung – whether jokingly or seriously – but as a President, there are jokes you can’t make because when you are President, people take what you say seriously because each time you speak in public as President people take it very serious,” Mweetwa recalled.
“But President Lungu said ‘ubomba mwibala, alya mwibala (he who works in a cornfield eats what is in the cornfield). Not withstanding the meaning of adage which is part of our proud heritage that we have these adages that govern us as a people emanating from our culture, the message that has sunk in the minds of the citizens is that President Lungu has now given a green light to say you can work for government and be able to plunder national resources. So the fight against corruption under President Lungu has suffered a severe blow. I don’t know what PF will do to try and launder, to try and clean because no matter how much they try to clean and explain that what he meant is not this but the other, people have understood that the President is the champion and promoter of corruption.”
Asked if he could highlight some of the areas where there was noticeable corruption in the PF government, Mweetwa pinpointed the controversial purchase of 42 fire trucks at $42 million and also the ambulances at the Ministry of Health.
“Simple, when you have a PF government buying ambulances at an exorbitant price then a foreign country donates similar ambulances having been purchased at a lower cost, doesn’t that smell corruption? Two, when you purchase fire tenders at $42 million and those fire tenders, lets be honest we have a country to protect, we have children whose future we must begin to prepare. So you buy fire tenders at $1 million each and then you go to insure them for $250 thousand. Barely a quarter of the actual price, meaning that if a fire tender today is gutted which you are paying premiums for at the insurance company but you have told the nation that it’s $1 million, so if its in an accident or its burnt, which insurance company is going to buy that fire tender at $1 million if at all that was the correct price? Isn’t this the living testament of corruption? And you (Kafwaya) are not involved, don’t defend things that are wrong where a few individuals out there are benefiting then you want to be defending corrupt people. Don’t do this, you and I have a future and we have children,” said Mweetwa.
But, Kafwaya who argued that he had no reason to defend any corrupt activities in the PF, said corruption was a governance issue that needed coordinated effort to be combated.
“Corruption has existed in Zambia for so many years, this is why we even have the Anti-Corruption Commission. President Lungu didn’t create that commission, it has been there to combat existing corruption for many years. Now if that commission has been there, if the police, the Attorney General have been there all along, what has the President done to destroy these institutions? Because to say that there is no political will to fight corruption… we should be able to state what President Lungu has done to weaken these institutions. President Lungu has followed the law to actually resource these structures. So I don’t see where he has taken a step to weaken any of these institutions that exist for the purpose of combating corruption,” Kafwaya said.
“Zambians are actually listening, I think corruption is a governance issue and governance is about structures not about individuals, because individuals do come and they do go. President Lungu will leave state House one day and another person will sit as President. But we need strong structures to handle these tasks, we have to improve structures and when we improve these structures then we will have a chance to combat corruption. And I have no reason why I should be defending corruption because just like the honourable member for Choma said, I have children whom I have to prepare a better country for. ”
Kafwaya also said that the reason why some of the security institutions were not performing well was because they were lacking resources.
“The Auditor General’s office audits public institutions and releases reports which honourable Mweetwa has a privilege of going through, year in year out as a member of PAC. The questions we must be asking ourselves are that why is police not taking an interest in the Auditor General’s report? Why is ACC not taking an interest. Are these people being restrained by President Lungu? If they are not, why are they not acting? Is it resources that the don’t have, is it the technology that they don’t have or the expertise to gather evidence that they don’t have? These are the issues we must be looking at and as you are aware there is a lot of debate about evidence provision and lack of it. People talk about corruption but you don’t mention a single incidence but you are saying there is corruption, what are you talking about?” wondered Kafwaya.