Youth and Sports Minister Moses Mawere says People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) leader Andyford Banda should not just yap about the youth empowerment funds scheme when he does not have facts.

Last week, Banda said that most of the PF empowerment projects had failed because of targeting cadres and children of people with influence in government.

He argued that when PAC forms government, he will change that approach and instead target the right people with talents to put the empowerment to good use.

But in an interview with News Diggers! Mawere said Banda was just yapping because he merely wanted to be heard by Zambian voters.

“That is his opinion because he is in opposition and so he has to remain relevant by lying to the Zambia people. So, since the Zambian people know the truth, they cannot hear from him. We, as PF, formed government and we are government, Andyford Banda is in opposition where he will never even form government at all. So, we formed government and when you form government, all the Zambian people become your responsibility. If you talk of PF membership, it’s very small as compared to the Zambian people who voted for PF. So, it’s not only members of PF who voted for PF, even people who don’t belong to any political party voted for PF [and] that is why PF formed government because it had a majority vote. So, you can’t tell me that all those who voted for Edgar Chagwa Lungu with 50 [per cent] plus one were all PF members,” Mawere said.

“So, we are government and all government programmes are targeted at the Zambian citizens regardless of their political affiliations, regardless of their race, regardless of their religion. As long as that person is a Zambian, it is the responsibility of government to provide all necessary empowerment for those people. So, that is his opinion. And, moreover, it’s not every programme, which government has initiated, which has failed. And since he wants to be heard by the Zambian people, he can continue barking like that.”

He added that government could not publish the names of the people who benefited from the failed Higer Bus empowerment programme because they already know themselves.

“The thing is, we give empowerment to people [who] apply to the government. Unless you tell me that we publish all the Zambian people who have gotten money from government. The people who got this empowerment are well known. You can [even] go to the (Public and Private Drivers) Association because first of all, those members were not members from government, those are youths who are members of the Public and Private Drivers Association of Zambia. The MoU is very clear; what government did was just to finance 40 per cent of the empowerment [while] Higer Corporation financed 60 per cent. The Public Private Drivers Association of Zambia through their members received that empowerment and they empowered their members,” Mawere explained.

“So, don’t say that that empowerment, government gave to the PF cadres, no! That empowerment was given to an association, which is very private, which has got nothing to do with government. We did not influence the registration of that association, they registered on their own will. In terms of who would benefit? We did not have any influence because as long as the guideline we gave them of anyone who is Zambian, who is a youth below the age of 35 years and who operates in bus stops, as long as that person is a member of that association was eligible to benefit and we empowered them.”

He said the failure by the Association to utilise the buses to the expectation of Zambians did not show any failure on government’s part.

“And the failure by the Association to utilise those buses to the expectation of the Zambian people does not show any failure on the part of government. We, as government, we want the private sector to run the economy of this country. We want the private sector to be the engine of economic growth of this country and that is why, as government, from time to time, we empower the private sector to ensure that they are the ones who are running the business. We don’t want government to run the business. So, those youths and the association, which failed to run those buses are equally Zambians like any other Zambian; they have failed to utilise the opportunity [which] we gave them as government [and] it is the responsibility of government to make sure that people who have failed government should not be empowered anymore,” he said.

Asked if the defaulting association would be made to pay back, Mawere said he was waiting for a report so that he could see the condition of the withdrawn buses before making another decision.