Vice-President Inonge Wina says President Edgar Lungu has directed that government should not engage in acquiring more loans or purchasing of expensive items like the presidential jet.

And Vice-President Wina says all purported civil servants who are illegally on the government payroll will lose their jobs once investigations are concluded.

Speaking in Parliament during the Vice-President’s Question Time, Friday, Vice-President Wina said government had already made an upfront payment of US $11.6 million to South African power utility, Eskom, for the importation of power into Zambia.

Responding to a question from Chadiza PF member of parliament Salatiel Tembo, who wanted the Vice-President to comment on the decision by the Russian government to cancel the contract for the purchase of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 presidential VIP plane to Zambia due to lack of funds, Vice-President Wina said President Lungu had ordered a stop to purchasing of expensive items amidst the austerity measures.

“Mr Speaker, this is a very important question because in the austerity measures that the country is going through, we do not expect the government, as the President has directed to engage in acquiring more loans or to go into purchases of expensive items, such as a jet. During the period 2015 to 2017, Mr Speaker, the Government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Ministry of Defence, entered into some contracts to procure various defence equipment, including aircrafts. However, the House may wish to note that the information on the purchase of defence equipment, which includes aircrafts, borders on national security and is bound by the principal of non-disclosure,” Vice-President Wina said.

And responding to a question from Chimwemwe PF member of parliament Elias Mwila on what government was doing to ensure that the 4,000 ghost workers on the GRZ payroll on the Copperbelt did not flee the country or tamper with the evidence, Vice-President Wina said all those found wanting will lose their jobs.

“Mr Speaker, after verification of the payroll, it was discovered that quite a large number of civil servants or purported civil servants were on the payroll when in fact not. Investigations are still ongoing. But those that have been identified as the major culprits will definitely lose their jobs, there is no question about that! All heads of institutions will be held responsible for the management of their payrolls,” she cautioned.

Meanwhile, Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu challenged Vice-President Wina on why the police had been denying the rights of the opposition over lack of manpower to man their events, but had manpower to disperse them.

In response, Vice-President Wina said aggrieved political parties were free to appeal to the Home Affairs Minister over denials of permits to hold their meetings.

“For the opposition leader to claim that the opposition political parties are not given space to associate, to say their views, I am not very sure whether this is happening. If the police are denying permits for the opposition to congregate, surely, there are other avenues that the parties can appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs (Stephen Kampyongo) to ensure that the police are not taking any partisan line because their duty is to safeguard the peace in the country to ensure that every political player is given space to participate in the democratic dispensation of this country,” she replied.

Vice-President Wina urged members of parliament to support Bill 10 and come up with tangible provisions that would hold the police service accountable for the way they treated different political parties in the country.

“Mr Speaker, this government is bringing the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 and the issue of Public Order Act will be discussed extensively. I know it has been discussed before, but we want to have the input of the people who feel that they are highly affected by the activities of the police. So, I urge honourable members to support this move so that we come up with tangible provisions in the Constitution that will hold the police service accountable for the way they are treating different political parties in the country,” Vice-President Wina added.

And when asked by Mkushi North PF member of parliament Doreen Mwape to give the House an update on the power importation deal with Eskom to mitigate country’s power crisis, Vice-President Wina said announced that an upfront payment of US $11.6 million had already been paid to the South African utility for the deal.

“Mr Speaker, indeed, the power deficit is affecting the economy of this country. And the President and the entire government is not pleased about the current status, that is why government is taking measures to ensure that we import electricity from other countries. And a team from Zambia is currently in South Africa and whose main mandate is to finalize and sign off a temp sheet with Eskom and conclude the debt repayment. It should be noted that US $11.6 million for the transaction has been paid to Eskom by Zesco. So, the balance is still being awaited to ensure sustainable flow of power imports. So, government through Zesco, is working on this matter and I hope before long, there will be some relief when it comes to power shortages in the country,” replied Vice-President Wina.