Party of National Unity (PNU) president Highvie Hamududu says ministers are showing a bad example by driving top class luxury cars when the economy of the country is falling down.
Commenting on government’s procurement of a new fleet of brand new GX V8 Land Cruiser SUVs for ministers and other senior officials, Hamududu said for a country like Zambia, Toyota Hilux 4×4 should be the highest limit in the civil service.
Hamududu said ministers should be given vehicles on loans just as is the case with members of parliament.
“I remember when the MMD came into power, the last vehicles of the UNIP regime for the minister was a Toyota Crown. The Minister of State used to drive a Toyota Cressida. The permanent secretaries and officials like at the Bank of Zambia and others, their main car was a Toyota Corona. We have history, we must not behave like people who are just dropping from nowhere. I think generally as a country we have misbehaved from 1991, of excessive government trapping. I remember when Akashambatwa (Mbikusita Lewanika) resigned and other colleagues like Baldwin Nkumbula, they complained about these expensive things. And government in government out, the issue of executive greed has continued and something must be done. Let PF address this problem. The vehicles that are enjoyed by the…I think are on the higher earn. I mean when I came to parliament in 2006 during the Mwanawasa regime, a minister was driving a GX and I think even that time that was expensive,” Hamududu recalled.
He also said there was need to review the whole vehicle policy in the civil service.
“The moment MMD came into power, they changed from Toyota Crowns to Volvo. The Toyota is easy to maintain for our terrain, the service is lower and so on. So we have continued to increase the notch of the cars not only at ministerial level, but at permanent secretary, directors and so on. The Pajejos that are driven by directors, those are not even supposed to be in government in the first place. Really for a country of our stature, a Toyota Hilux 4×4 is enough offload for ministers. And our ministers could have continued with Toyota Crowns. When I went to Japan three years ago, I was shocked, the ministers there were driving Toyota Crowns. And Japan’s economy is among the top big economies in the world. We are just an excessive people. I think there must be a stop,” Hamududu said.
He said if civil servants want to drive expensive cars, they must be given on loan.
“I can tell you that even as an MP, the Land Cruiser which I got from parliament which I still use up to now, it was a loan which I paid for five years, part of my gratuity went to paying the loan. So even in the civil service, they system must stop. If they want to drive GXs and Pajeros and Prados, they must be on the loan, just like our MPs, those cars are on the loan. They pay back. So we need a review of the whole vehicle policy in the country. Not just about the abuse on the weekend but about the size of cars that we must use as government. First of all they are guzzler on fuel apart from being expensive to buy and also expensive to maintain because they are bigger cars. So a country like this one really, Toyota Hilux 4×4 should be the top vehicle in the civil service. The top guys in the civil service must learn to walk with the people,” Hamududu said.
“So the ministers are showing a bad example by driving top class Land Cruisers. It is not correct. And I think that Land Cruiser must just remain at the president and vice president. If they want to drive these cares, they can get them on loan. No one is stopping them. When the PF came into power, they upgraded from a GX for a minister to a VX. So even from the Chiluba, the Mwanawasa, the RB to PF, the abuse of government has continued. Without exception they have continued having these expensive vehicles. Every time the economy gets better, even the fleet of vehicles went up. Today directors, look at the parastatal chiefs what they are driving, the same VXs that the ministers are driving. These parastatals are not private companies, these are people’s companies. I don’t think Zambians will agree that these parastatals must drive those expensive cars.”
Hamududu also wondered why parastatals would be driving top of the range vehicles when they were making losses.
“So beyond this so-called austerity, let us do the right thing. Why should an MP travel on a business class? I said it even in parliament that we must review the travel policy of MPs. There is need for us to travel business class to Zimbabwe, 45 minutes, what a waste. I think collectively as a country, we have been on a wrong path. And for PF who are now leading the country where there is an economic implosion, it is time now we stopped that. Look at these Nissans they are buying these parastatals, top of the range and [if] you look at these parastatals, they are making loses. They are not declaring dividends to the Zambian people,” Observed Hamududu.
“What we need now is a completely overhaul of how we are running this country. first of all, vehicles is one of the small excess expenditure that the government is wasting money on. The other issue is the structure of the government itself, the government should be broken at top. We need to right size the government. Some of the ministries must be done away with. There are too many ministries, ministries must be aligned. Do we need a Ministry of Religious Affairs? No we don’t. Many people are afraid to say that but I can say that, I am not against the church, it is [just] not correct. The highest that they can do is that they can put a desk at State House in charge of religious affairs if you want that interface with government or at cabinet office. You don’t need a ministry of religious affairs, they have no function. I would rather we have a ministry of cooperatives.”