National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili has charged that permanent secretaries and civil servants are thieving because they have dull ministers who do not understand anything.

And Kambwili has warned that if the Patriotic Front government removes the provision that allows retirees to remain on payroll until they are paid their benefits, they will exit from office before 2021.

Speaking when he featured on Diamond Television’s Costa programme, Wednesday evening, Kambwili said President Lungu had devalued the position of minister by appointing people who were ignorant about many issues.

“President Lungu has devalued the office of minister. Look at some of the individuals that are holding the office of minister. Under normal circumstances, can those people be ministers? I don’t want to go to individuals. But scrutinize them yourselves and see the calibre, their qualifications, and then see if indeed… you can’t imagine what this man (President Lungu) wants to achieve. I really don’t understand the recent appointments he has made. Can you ever think that this President is serious and wants to achieve something? The quality of a minister also matters.,” Kambwili said.

“If a minister does not understand anything, that is what Permanent Secretaries are taking advantage and the officials in the ministry to steal at will because they know that ‘we have a dull minister’. Where there are clever and intelligent ministers who are able to articulate issues, who are able to analyze issues and interpret issues, there is no way that a ministry can suffer stealing like that. But the calibre of ministers we have today leaves much to be desired. That is why today I don’t even admire to be a minister.”

Kamwbili observed that civil servants were being tempted to steal because they were not getting sustainable salaries.

“Civil servants are being tempted to steal today because they are failing to make ends meet. I don’t support stealing but look, if you are taking home pay K1,200 and you have children to send to school… so you get tempted. So pay these people well to keep them from stealing. Even in the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer says ‘Lead us not into temptation’. But when you lead people into temptation, the results are just like the President said ‘Ubomba mwilbala eba ifya mwibala’.
Let’s accept that things are bad under this PF/MMD. Because 18 out of 30 of the ministers are former MMD, the people that we moved out of power are the ones who are running government,” Kambwili, who also warned that Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya would make the PF collapse.

“The Dora [Siliya] who made MMD lose are the Doras who are answering on behalf of PF, what a shame! Even Sata must be turning around in his grave with anger. These people like Dora Siliya are the same ones who made MMD go down and today the same chaps have come to destroy PF because they are used. That Dora Siliya was on court over the single sourcing of the radar at the Airport, today she is defending the single sourcing of Topstar. She can defend anything as long as she is eating. But time for reckoning is very soon and these people will start answering to charges.”

Meanwhile, debating the Ministry of Labour and Social Security budget in Parliament earlier, Kambwili warned against scrapping off the provision which allowed retirees to stay on the payroll until they had been paid their benefits.

“70 per cent of the jobs that have been created are by Chinese investors. But when you look at how much they pay the people, it’s an insult! Some people are paid as low as K250 per month by these investors. Yesterday, (Tuesday), I got very worried when I heard the undertones from the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Justice over the issue of retirees remaining on the payroll,” Kambwili said.

“That you want to come and bring an amendment to remove that particular provision that allows retirees to remain on the payroll, let’s have mercy on the poor people. I want to send a friendly warning: if you want to leave before 2021, try and play with such provisions.”

Kambwili charged that government was the biggest violator of its own labour laws, adding that they patronise the Chinese too much to the extent that they were now taking advantage.

Kambwili also promised that when he became Republican President, the PF would see how to run a country.

He further observed that the US $4.3 million that government spent on the Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Plaza would have been better spent on paying retirees than putting it in their pockets and those of the Chinese.