A letter from the Ministry of Works and Supply to the Ministry of General Education revealing the planned sale of Jacaranda Primary School in Lusaka has sparked outraged among citizens, just months after the government confirmed the sale of the Natural Resources Development College (NRDC) to the Chinese.
But when contacted, General Education Minister David Mabumba who seemed to be in the dark expressed shock that the named school was considered a wasting asset.
According to a letter dated 2nd May 2018 which was signed by Ministry of Works and Supply Permanent Secretary Agness Musunga and addressed to the PS Ministry of General Education and copied to Felix Mutati and to the Cabinet office, government has identified Jacaranda Primary School as one of the five wasting properties that will be surrendered to private partners for mutual benefits.
Musunga stated that the decision was necessitated by the failure by her ministry to deliver its mandate of providing adequate office accommodation to Ministries Provinces and other Spending Agencies (MPSAs).
In the letter, Musunga also stated that due to inadequate office space cause by a number of government wasting assets, a lot of ministries had opted to rent private buildings or purchase expensive office blocks.
“In 1964, the Zambian Government inherited building infrastructure from the British Government which included all buildings that were designated for the public use. Over the years, the inherited buildings have not been adequately maintained and have since deteriorated. Further, the pace of constructing new office buildings has been slow, due to inadequate fiscal space. In addition, the numbers of the civil servants and other public workers has increased while the number of office space has predominantly been static. This has resulted in officers overcrowding in offices which negatively affects productivity and service delivery,” Musunga stated.
She stated that Jacaranda primary school was among the five wasting properties which government through her ministry had identified for redevelopment through the PPP arrangement.
“Arising from the aforementioned challenges, the Ministry of Works and Supply has been unable to deliver its mandate of providing adequate office accommodation to MPSAs. This has led to a situation where some ministries have opted to rent private buildings or purchase expensive office blocks. In this regard, the Ministry of Works and Supply has embarked on a transformation agenda of identifying and redevelopment wasting assets country wide. The ministry has initially identified five (5) properties in the city of Lusaka for redevelopment namely: Hurbert Young hostels and Jacaranda Primary School, Plot No. 12604 at corner of Ngwee and UN road in Longacres, Plot No. 314, Independence Avenue, Small Enterprise Development Board (SEDB) House, along Cairo road and an undeveloped plot on Nangwenya road opposite National Assembly Motel,” stated Musunga.
“The redevelopment of these properties will be carried out through Private Partnerships (PPP) and other innovative financing arrangements. In this regard, the Ministry of Works and Supply has developed conceptual plans for the proposed redevelopment of these selected properties. The Ministry intends to conduct a market sounding event scheduled for 29th May 2018, in order to engage and verify possible financiers and developers. The purpose of writing is to inform you about the intended use of the property which has been our jurisdiction and to request for your support and active participation in this transformation process aimed at enhancing service delivery of the public workers who will be executing other duties in a modern and conducive environment.”
But Mabumba expressed shock that the named school was considered as a wasting asset.
Mabumba also assured to call his Works and Supply counterpart to verify the matter.
“I am out of Lusaka and so I can’t really verify that information. You are speaking to me as the authority and the authority to close the school is vested in the minister. So I am not aware of writing anywhere that that particular school has been closed. So it’s a matter that we need to verify. No how can Jacaranda be declared as a wasting asset? If you look at where we are talking about, we have got Hurbert Young there. I will call Honourable Mutati because I think I had some discussions with him but he didn’t mention that one,” said Mabumba.
Meanwhile when contacted, Works and Supply Minister Felix Mutati referred the matter to his Spokesperson who also requested for a press query.
The planned sale of the school has however sparked outrage as some citizens allege suspicious motives behind the development.
Jacob Banda, a Facebook user wondered why the government was giving away all prime land to foreign developers and inconveniencing learners.
“They seem to be targeting prime land where schools and colleges are situated. This country is being led by a bunch of criminals,” he said.
“Very soon we will be sold as slaves, don’t be surprised. These are the effect of having people with no vision in front seats,” posted Happy Nkandu on Facebook.