Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) Executive Director Wesley Chibamba says those who were charged with the responsibility of keeping drugs at Medical Stores Limited must be the ones to refund Global Fund and not the innocent Zambians.

Speaking in an interview with News Diggers! Chibamba said the citizens of Zambia had already paid their taxes and it was illogical to force them to refund Global Fund again.

“We have a problem with government being careless about tax payers’ money when it’s the tax payers that are going to pay back that money. What this means now is that when they are paying back, they are going to get that money from the tax payers, when we have people who were put in charge to look after those finances, medical products and all that. They are people who are responsible for those things. Those are the people that should be made to pay, not the Zambian people. The Zambian people already paid by paying their taxes. And those were donor funds so there is no way that they are going to expect us to be getting that money. They want to be getting money out of our pockets, they charged us so that they can pay for their carelessness,” Chibamba said.

He said the Global Fund should not be refunded using money gotten from government coffers.

“So what we are saying is that that money should not be gotten from government coffers. Can they charge the people who were responsible for those resources? Let them charge them so that not every Zambian tax payer pays that money but the people who were responsible, the ones who were careless in the first place. Let them pay,” said Chibamba.

“I want you to put it on record that what we are saying is the people that were charged with presiding over those resources, the ones that lost the resources, they are the ones that should pay, not the Zambian people. Once we start moving in that direction, then people will stop abusing public resources, people will stop being careless over presiding over public resources. Once they know that they are going to start paying out of their pockets, then they will be more responsible.”

Chibamba was reacting to Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s statement that government would refund the Global Fund the stolen $1 million worth of drugs.

“The Global Fund is a fund that is set up for a specific purpose and there are guidelines and regulations. Zambia is a contributor to the Global Fund and Zambia is a signatory to Global Fund. Now we have to live by the rules [and] the rules are categorical. If there is expenditure that is not acceptable, the government or the responsible country will have to find a way of making it up. Global fund does not take a loss. [With] Global Fund, the rules are extremely clear and what we are saying is that as government, we have plucked the leaks and we have taken responsibility and make sure we find the ways of making good. We have taken responsibility as government and we will make sure that not only do we protect commodity, not only do we avoid further leakages but we will also ensure that we continue having good relationships with the Global Fund. The Global Fund has appreciated the response that government has given and this is on paper. Global Fund clear stated in the same circular that they recognise Zambia as a key partner in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria,” said Dr Chilufya then.