Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme says Permanent Secretaries cannot manage to detect all the theft going on in government by themselves because the civil service is full of opposition-sponsored workers, colluding to steal from Zambians.

And Chiteme says it does not matter whether an investigation has been instituted into Vespers Shimuzhila’s death because it is clear that the riots were sponsored by the opposition.

Speaking when he featured on Pan African Radio, Monday, Chiteme said it was quite impossible for a Permanent Secretary, who is a controlling officer, to know everything going on in a Ministry because junior officers usually hide the fraud once it has been agreed upon by the internal auditors and the general management of directors in a given ministry.

“We have thieving civil servants. And civil servants are not affiliated to the PF or to anyone, they are non-partisan, and most of them belong to the opposition! In the civil service, we have a Minister who is only at policy-level, we have a PS, who is a controlling officer, and is appointed by the President. Apart from that, we have people that have been employed in government as civil servants. And coming from a professional view, I think collusion and fraud that is being agreed by the internal auditors, the general management directors; it cannot even be detected by a controlling officer who is a PS because they would have agreed. But you see the resilient nature of our President, when things like that come up, he never protects anyone. We’ve lost a colleague of mine, a very good minister [Emerine Kabanshi]. Not because she was implicated or anything. But because the President wanted transparency to be done in the Social Cash Transfer issues, which everybody else is going to come and talk about,” Chiteme said.

“The President has also instructed the suspension of the whole management team for Zampost, and also at the at the Ministry of General Education. So, you see how the President is making the right steps to make sure that there is accountability? Moreover, this is the only time that you see a government that is prosecuting people. This is the only time that you see a government that is prosecuting people and being seen to get convicted. We can talk about these issues because now, we have seen the conviction of Kapoko in the Ministry of Health. He is a prosecuted case and there is a conviction. This is the first time you are hearing of something like this. This government is keen on ensuring that all cases cited in the Auditor General’s Report are followed up and acted on because we treat the report just like we treat the Holy Bible. We have had governments before, but we are trying to make sure that this civil service begins to work with the principles and guidance of the government.”

And asked if it was true that government was using the police to cover up its insecurities as alleged by UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, who was commenting on the arrest of the Ndola Clergyman and CTPD officials for conducting a meeting to discuss the 2019 national budget, Chiteme declined to comment on the matter but instead went on to blame the opposition leader for Vespers’ death.

“Have you ever heard Hakainde Hichilema say anything positive about this country? Have you ever heard Hakainde Hichilema complementing government for anything good that government has done? What we are seeing from that desperate politician is that he is going to take advantage of the Church, the students and every other unfortunate event to make sure that he gains political mileage. If I were Hakainde Hichilema, I would concentrate on making myself and not encouraging my members of parliament to be tribal, to make divisions in this country. Hakainde is going to talk about a lot of things, including the unfortunate death of the student at the UNZA. Before that death, there was a press conference, which turned [into] a rally at the UPND secretariat, where they said that Zambians should rise up and the following day there was a riot at UNZA and, unfortunately, there was the death for Vespers,” Chiteme argued.

“So, we see this political desperation where someone is even willing to sacrifice people to gain political mileage! The funeral of my sister Vespers was being politicised by certain politicians. We saw students wearing T-shirts, printed within three days! But if students were crying about not receiving money for meals [allowances], where did they get money to print T-shirts? Yes, there is going to be an investigation into the riots like the President has instructed, but as a person, I have my own personal opinion. And whether there is an investigation or not, we know that that riot was sponsored! We know who sponsored it and we know that there were buses ferried from Kanyama to go into the University of Zambia to start that riot.”

Chiteme also blasted the UPND for entertaining the media at Vespers’ funeral.

“And what’s this thing of taking cameras to the funeral? We saw how people turned the funeral of our beloved sister into a luxurious event where they wanted to capture on camera at the funeral. You didn’t have to take Prime TV to the funeral. If you are genuine in mourning a person that has died, you would go there quietly and with respect. I was at the funeral, but no one noticed I was even there, did you see a picture of me? No! When our Minister of Information [Dora Siliya] went there, she was insulted; when our Minister of Higher Education [Prof Nkandu Luo] went there, she was chased, but when Hichilema went there, he was celebrated! He was all over TV and social media, so you can see how desperate people have become to get into power!” Chiteme exclaimed.

Asked what his comment was on the alleged purchase of an aircraft for President Lungu by the Zambia Air Force (ZAF), Chiteme argued there was nothing wrong with securing the Head of State’s travel safety.

“There are only two institutions in this country that are mandated to buy aircrafts; the defunct Zambia Airways and the Zambia Air Force. The last time there was serious procurement of anything in this country for the Zambia Army was at Independence. So, we should run with obsolete equipment just because the opposition is going to say, ‘they have bought this?’ Of late, you’ve seen that when the President is travelling long distances, we hire transportation for him because the old [Presidential] Challenger is a risk. You can ask the former president, Mr Rupiah Banda, they almost had an accident because the screws bulged in. So, if you are going to tell us that ‘you have bought a plane’, whether it’s true or not, I wouldn’t be worried if I bought a plane for the President because the plane is not for Edgar Lungu. He’s not going to take it home when he leaves office. It is going to remain property of Zambia and the next president is going to use it. So, what is wrong with securing the travel of our Republican President?” asked Chiteme.