VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says it is not too late for a Commission of Inquiry into Privatisation because there is no timeframe in which government can fight a crime.

And Vice-President Wina says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema cannot be singled out because he is not the only one who was involved in the privatisation process.

During Vice-President’s question time in Parliament, Friday, Livingstone UPND member of parliament Matthew Jere asked Vice-President Inonge Wina whether or not the petition received by President Edgar Lungu was rightly timed or it was a witch-hunt.

In her response, Vice-President Wina said there is no time-frame in which to fight crimes committed many years ago.

“When crimes are committed Mr Speaker, there is no timeframe as to when certain actions should be taken to address those issues. So, the president will decide on when this commission of inquiry will be constituted. It is in his powers to put in place commissions of inquiry when certain things happen in the country. Mr Speaker, the privatisation issue is such a very serious matter that it has changed the whole landscape of economic life of this country. People have died in destitution out of depression. Now we have street children that we never had before prior to privatisation simply because of the manner in which we did away with our thriving parastatals that employed a lot of Zambians. And these Zambians lost out up to today, some have not been compensated, some have died, and some are still languishing in poverty,” Vice-President Wina responded.

“So, to say that the timing is wrong, I do not believe that there is any time that is given to undertake these commissions of inquiries. In any case, this issue has been lingering, it has been there since 1994 up to day, which means that people are still aggrieved and want to find a final solution to this issue.”

And Vice-President Wina said she could not single out UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema because he was not the only one who was involved in the process.

“Mr Speaker, those that watched the clip of the matchers that went to State House and listened to their petitions, I do not remember them mentioning the name of an individual. What was presented to His Excellency the President was a plea to institute a commission of inquiry to look into the issue of the privatisation of government institutions that happened in the 1990s and in the early 2020s. Mr Speaker, I do not remember hearing the name of Mr Hakainde being mentioned in that petition. And the privatisation exercise, Mr Speaker, was undertaken by various institutions including individuals. And because there were so many, I cannot see why we should single out one person according to the member of parliament who is seeking support for that individual. He was not the only one who was involved in the privatisation exercise,” Vice-President Wina said.

Meanwhile, when asked by Roan NDC member of parliament Joseph Chishala when government would pay former RAMCOZ employees their dues, she said the employees in question were suffering as a result of the same privatisation of state owned enterprises.

“The issue of RAMCOZ today and their sufferings is part of the privatisation exercise. This is what we have been saying that the institutions or companies that were given the mandate to advise government on the privatisation process and actually in participating in the privatisation should have should have taken the interest of Zambians at heart because what has happened is that some of the companies were mismanaged in the manner they were privatized. Some of the workers have lost out and RAMCOZ workers are some of these workers that have suffered at the hands of privatization. And the sooner we know more about what actually transpired, perhaps some remedies will be found to support or help people such as RAMCOZ employees. Mr Speaker, this is an issue that is so intricate. And we will hear more I suppose when a commission of inquiry has been established,” Vice-President Wina said.

And when asked by Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Kasautu Michelo on why the issuance of NRCs process was discriminatory in Monze, Vice-President Wina said the process was dependent on logistics on the ground.

“There is no discrimination whatsoever when it comes to issuance of NRCs. If the lines are long in certain areas, it really depends on the logistics on the ground and how much the officers can handle that day. But to insinuate that people are being discriminated against in one province is not fair. The ministry [of home affairs] is doing its best under the current circumstances to ensure that every Zambian who desires to have an NRC is provided with that NRC. And this is what is happening even in Monze, the area that the MP is mentioning in his question. On online voter registration, I believe that this issue is still in the courts of law. So, I cannot say much on that one but only to say that we have to move with the times. But ECZ is also addressing the issue of registration under the new normal using digital platforms,” Vice-President said.

Lumezi Independent MP Pilila Jere then asked her to clarify on rumors that the USAID had heavily funded government to facilitate LGBT education in schools under the auspices of comprehensive sexual education.

In her response, Vice-President Wina said government would constitute a multi-sectorial technical working group to understand operational and the functional gaps in the existing sexual education framework before communicating the next course of action.

“The rumors that circulate on social media in our country are so many including the big debate on sexual education. Honorable members will remember that the comprehensive sexuality education framework was introduced in 2013 as part of the revised Zambia education curriculum. Overtime, the society feels that the framework should be subjected to a review and that is what is causing all this discussion. To address these concerns, government is to constitute a multi-sectoral technical working group in conjunction with the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, the UN family and many more, to understand the existing operational and the functional gaps in the framework and consequently advise government on the next course of action,” she said.

Asked by Chitambo PF MP Remember Mutale on allegations by the opposition that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) was planning to rig the 2021 elections, Vice-President Wina said such rumors were being spread by those fearing to lose the election.

“The allegations being leveled against ECZ are mainly to prepare Zambians’ minds that if some political parties lose elections in 2021, they will say ‘we told you’ when in fact it’s a fallacy. Mr Speaker, these are sentiments meant to undermine the integrity of the Electoral Commission of Zambia to conduct free and fair elections. And as government, we feel saddened when we see democratic institutions being weakened for political expediency. Mr Speaker, Institutions such as the ECZ are the visible pillars of our constitution and democracy. And if they crack, then the idealism of constitutionalism cannot hold. Therefore Mr Speaker, the answer is not to destroy what we have built but strengthen and perfect our institutions such as ECZ so that they become more stronger than before. Institutions are guardians of our liberty and we should nature them and strengthen them so that our democracy can thrive,” said Vice-President Wina.