Elias Chipimo says he does not understand why Cabinet Office has instituted an inquiry to ascertain how the dossier exposing extravagant expenditure on Presidential travels was obtained when State House has disqualified the document as fake.
Chipimo, who is National Restoration Party (NAREP) president, told News Diggers in an interview that it was more than clear that State House had no idea how to deal with the information contained in the dossier.
He observed that there was a complete contradiction in State House saying that the document was fake and Cabinet Office instituting investigations to establish how the document was acquired.
“I think it’s very clear that the Spokesperson for the President and State House in general are really in over their heads. They don’t know how to deal with the issue that has been raised by this dossier. There is a complete contradiction in saying that the document is fake and then you want to institute investigations to see how it was acquired. If it’s fake, there wouldn’t be need to institute an investigation to see how it was acquired because it is a fake document. If it was fake, the Spokesperson for the President would not be saying ‘some of it appears doctored’ because that means that there is something genuine,” Chipimo said.
And Chipimo said it would be nice for government to apply the same energy they were using to investigate the dossier to determining why so much money was wasted on fire trucks.
“The issue here isn’t really about whether or not people were paying for dances or cruises, the issue here is about how much money is being spent on foreign trips in a way that is not justified. And what we would like to see is the same energy that they want to apply in investigating how this document was acquired, and I believe it is a genuine document, if they were to spend that same energy and they had the same determination to deal with how we are spending millions of dollars buying fire tenders which are worth only quarter of their value. How we have spent huge sums of money buying ambulances which do not justify that expenditure. If they were to spend the same energy and had the same zeal to investigate the misappropriation, misapplication and fraud that has been identified by the Auditor General’s office, then we might actually have a chance of development. But as it is, they only is to be interested in investigating those things that threaten the exposure of the corruption that has been taking place systematically since the PF came into power,” Chipimo said.
Chipimo said the revelations in the dossier were disheartening and that they reflected lack of concern, care for the suffering that the majority of the Zambians were going through.
“Zambians have been experiencing very difficult economic times and right now, the number of people coming onto the job market every year is over 400 thousand. Now, that translates to over one thousand jobs a day that need to be created just to maintain the pace of the influx of young people coming onto the job market. This isn’t even talking about the number of young people without jobs who have been languishing for the last five to ten years. So to have this excessive expenditure on foreign trips in the middle of such difficult economic hardships and then to start imposing different forms of tax on people through the national health insurance bill proposal, through the decision to impose tax on those who are drawing water from their own boreholes. To completely misapply our expenditure on fire trucks and ambulances at prices that far exceed what should be paying for these things. We should reflect at not only lack of competence on the part of those in power but it’s actually almost a criminal assault on the people of this country,” Chipimo lamented.
“We are being required to pay for the excesses that are being generated by a leadership that was elected to responsibly deliver development. So what we are demanding is for a parliamentary committee to look into the Presidential trips and expenditures associated there. Not just in foreign travels but also internal travel. We also want a full balance sheet and audit of trips of ministers. Where they’ve traveled to, what the costs where and what they went to do. And this made must be made a national document so that we can access whether or not the money that we are going to be asked to pay under the health insurance bill when its made a law, whether it’s actually a justified cost to be placing on the backs of hard working Zambians. We already pay far too much tax directly and indirectly. Right now, what government should be doing is prioritising ways in which they can ensure that ordinary citizens are empowered with economic activities.”
Meanwhile, Chipimo called for transparency in utilising public funds.
“We have made this proposal through what we are calling ‘the TiPanGeni idea’, where the government procurement system should be much more transparently managed and should facilitate access to government contracts by ordinary individuals but tied to a training programme so that they will be given skills to deliver on those very government projects. The project must be overseen by civil society and the private sector so to ensure that there is no corruption and there is no patronage and nepotism on the basis of kickbacks that decision makers will have access to. If this is done and our resources instead of being spent on foreign trips which are not justified in terms of their expenditure. If we prioritise expenditure on building skills and ensuring that Zambians have access to their own resources then we will see a turn around in our economy,” said Chipimo.