Govt officials are abusing public vehicles to enjoy tourism, complains Mutati

Works and Supply Minister Felix Mutati says some officials misusing government vehicles have been caught abusing the public assets at local tourist attractions in the country.

And Mutati has warned that the continued abuse of government vehicles by some officials is causing delays in the completion of critical infrastructure and projects around the country.

Meanwhile, Mutati denied that mandating Government Printers to print ballot papers for the 2021 general election amounted to single-sourcing.

Speaking on ZNBC Radio 4’s Platform Programme, Tuesday, Mutati bemoaned the continued, rampant abuse of government vehicles still being perpetrated by some government officials.

He revealed that some of them were even caught misusing government vehicles at selected local tourist destinations in the country.

“We have had incidences where at a road block, you find a government employee has given the vehicle to spouse to go and do whatever. And as far as I am concerned, it’s a sense of entitlement; they are supposed to drive this vehicle because their spouse works with government. We are saying that is not the rule. We have found, like we did in Livingstone, using a government vehicle to go and tour the various and interesting tourist sites in Livingstone!” Mutati exclaimed.

“As government, we are saying; ‘we have nothing against our citizens enjoying tourism in Livingstone.’ What we are against is using a government motor vehicle in order to enjoy tourism.”

He told erring civil servants to use their own personal resources to go vacationing and not abuse public assets.

“Use your own assets and abilities to be able to enjoy, but don’t take the people’s assets for personal enjoyment,” Mutati advised.

He also bemoaned the low penalties attached to the abuse of government vehicles.

“There are various penalties that have been structured. If, for example, you are driving a government motor vehicle, you are drunk, and we impound you, the penalty is K250, which we think is low because of the consequences that may arise from drunken driving. If you are not employed by government, but for whatever reason, you find yourself driving a government vehicle, the penalty is only K1,000,” Mutati narrated.

And Mutati has warned that the continued abuse of government vehicles by some officials is causing delays in the completion of critical infrastructure and projects around the country.

“…So, when you point a finger at government that, ‘we have this unfinished building, incomplete, it’s stalled.’ The school has not been completed; my health post is still stranded; the infrastructure of the road, the pace of development is slow. It is because the expenditure that is supposed to support development is being used and misused on consumption; on supporting the agenda of the individual and not the agenda of the government,” he complained.

“That is why, over the last couple of weeks, we have embarked on a number of things. One, undertaking road blocks; and what I can tell you is that we have witnessed a decline in terms of the ones that we have been impounding week-on-week. We have also witnessed an increased level of people queuing up at the Ministry of Works and Supply to get competence certificates.”

He further complained that the Ministry is battling to try and change the mind set of some government officials to desist from continuous abuse of public assets.

One caller, identified as ‘Frank’ from Nampundwe, asked Mutati what his Ministry’s stance was on PF cardres’ abuse of driving government-owned Toyota Land Cruisers with no number plates, he warned of stern action.

“If in the event one of the vehicles owned by government, has no number plate, that is an offence, and subject to a penalty. Indeed, we are able to identify what is a government vehicle. So, no matter what you do to disguise a government vehicle, our people on the ground are able to do that. That is the reason why we have said we will continue the exercise of impounding so that we can minimize this particular vice,” Mutati responded.

The Ministry is implementing a transport policy and freight management system aimed at tackling government’s annual K2 billion expenditure on its vast fleet of around 14,000 vehicles.

Meanwhile, when asked to respond to concerns that mandating Government Printers to print ballot papers for the 2021 general election amounted to single-sourcing, Mutati said: “It’s very, very clear that, Government Printers is a department of Government. And when you give business to a department of Government, you are not single-sourcing, you are delivering service. So, we take it as service delivery.”

“Just like we deliver service to you when are sick, just like we deliver service to you when you are at school.”

         

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