UPND chairman for elections Peter Mumba says Zambians should out-rightly reject the proposed removal of meal allowances as insinuated by Higher Education Minister Prof Nkandu Luo.

Mumba who is former Energy Permanent Secretary told News Diggers! in an interview that if government had no money to continue paying students’ meal allowances, there wouldn’t be reports of public resources being plundered every year by those charged with the responsibility of handling them.

“You see, when I read the story, Prof Nkandu Luo was saying parents should take responsibility in providing for their children’s meal allowance, and the reason behind is that, government hasn’t got money to continue sponsoring children by way of giving them meal allowances. But remember that, in the recent past, we have seen the (parliamentary) committee on Public Accounts, which has also expressed concern on the abuse of resources by the people in the Ministry of Education; millions of kwacha are being stolen day in, day out, and they continue saying: ‘there is no money in government.’ I would like to believe that money in government is there except that they are stealing it, and they are not bringing anybody to book who steals because I think it is the [act] of stealing, which has engulfed the whole nation,” Mumba observed.

He added that his party would take government on to ensure that the decision is not implemented.

“Money is there, [but] all they need is to look after this money prudently, and they will be able to afford to pay meal allowances to the students. Professor Nkandu Luo and myself are beneficiaries of meal allowances. They didn’t tell us that: ‘no, you go back to your parents so that they give you meal allowances’ [but] today, she wants to turn around after benefiting from the meal allowance, which the Kaunda government used to give her! That we will not accept, and as UPND, we will take them on, on this one,” he vowed.

And Mumba questioned the PF’s pro-poor credentials if students are being compelled to suffer in that manner.

“There is no seriousness on the part of these people! I think to them, it’s jolly rides, no. You have to take responsibility. During MMD, we never used to experience such problems because I think there was discipline, but [with] these people, there is no discipline at all, anybody is free to steal! And now, a student must suffer and yet when they were campaigning they said: ‘we are pro-poor’ [but] now, they are killing the poor person. A poor child from a poor background will never be educated in this country because of being irresponsible. What a way of ending a year? By making such irresponsible pronouncements! We are not going to accept this. We have seen how they are stealing money through road constructions and many other infrastructure developments, which they call development. I would like to call upon Zambians to reject this out-rightly because money is there and they are just misusing it. Money is there and that is why we are saying for UPND, it will be free education for all,” said Mumba.