TRANSPORT and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya says the major reason why the speed cameras contract was cancelled is because it was signed by the RTSA chief executive officer when it should have been done by the Minister of Finance.
And Kafwaya says the depositing of speed camera fines into an unapproved bank account is not important as it was an insignificant component of the entire process.
Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Kafwaya admitted that it was wrong to use an unapproved account for depositing fines.
“It’s a number of issues. I think firstly, the contract was signed by RTSA with IMS. You might want to know that. And then there were financing issues. And then the RTSA chief executive officer is not the Minister of Finance because you know that legally, the only person who can commit a country to financing is a Minister of Finance. This is why the concession was transferred to the Ministry of Finance. But as a ministry, it was our strong recommendation that we just cancel it and begin afresh and be able to come up with a comprehensive system that is going to be more beneficial to the Zambian people,” Kafwaya said.
Kafwaya said there were no scandals in the contract between the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and Intelligence Mobility Solutions (IMS) except that it was not properly seated with the agency.
“It wasn’t abandoned in a scandalous manner. We recommended the cancellation of the project in a normal manner. There were no scandals. The project was just not properly seated. We need to make it more comprehensive. It has to be a better project that is going to respond to the issues that we face in the sector. And this is why we recommended to the PPP council to consider canceling it. There are many ways in which you can improve a system. At times, you can build on what is existing and at other times, you can bring down what is existing and start a new process altogether. And in our wisdom, for this particular issue, we determined that starting anew may be better,” Kafwaya said.
“Assessing a project doesn’t end with its implementation. You continually assess it. At conceptualization, it’s assessed, at implementation, it’s also assessed and you continually look for opportunities to improve a project. So, for us, we are not going to say that because this project is already in implementation therefore, it can’t be assessed. We have to find opportunities to improve our economic and social environment. And in this case, we found that we may have to just recommend for a cancellation.”
He said depositing of fines in a private account was not a significant component of the project.
“[The aspect of monies going in a private account] is not important because this is a very insignificant component of the entire process. And that money which went to a wrong account, the account was wrong in the sense that it was not approved by Ministry of Finance. But if Ministry of Finance had approved that, there was going to be nothing wrong with that. It’s just that the Treasury had not approved that account. But the account actually helped people because people who were paying by card could only pay through that account and that account was not approved by Ministry of Finance. And from where I am sitting, that reconciliation has been done and I think the Ministry of Finance is happy that all the money has gone to finance. You see, lack of approval is a problem. And that was the only problem. [It’s] not that the money was stolen. The money wasn’t stolen. It just went to an account which was not approved by the Treasury. So, yes, it was wrong to use an account which was not approved,” Kafwaya said.
Asked why the PF government was diverting people’s attention to the privatization inquiry, Kafwaya said just like the speed cameras project was revised, even the privatization was not an exception.
“We recommended the cancellation of the IMS contract and we can recommend for a stop on anything that is existing now or the assessment of something that existed long before us or even in our time. So, there is no way you can say ‘this we shouldn’t do and this you should do’ because everything that is important to the Zambian people has got to be done. And let me be clear, the commission of inquiry is not happening in my sector, it is happening in the mining sector, tourism sector and other sectors. But it’s something that I fully endorse because why should one story keep on haunting us? The story should be assessed,” Kafwaya said.
Asked about his views on allegations about the PF being corrupt, Kafwaya challenged those making such allegations to substantiate their claims.
“I am concerned because it’s creating a perception about me. But the good part is that if I were corrupt, people could have already said ‘this minister is corrupt because he engaged in this particular illegality and that particular illegality.’ If PF members were corrupt as it is being projected, people could have already come up and said ‘you are corrupt because of the 48 houses, you are corrupt because of the fire tender.’ But those fire tenders are sitting in a ministry and the ministry is an institution for the Zambian people including those alleging corruption. Why have you failed to go and get a tender document? Why have you failed to go and get the analysis so that you can be able to come back to the people and say ‘in fact, these tender documents are saying this and what that minister said is contrary to the provisions of the law?” Kafwaya asked.
“Why are you failing to do that?’ The reason you are failing to do that is because you have no capacity for analysis. The only thing you can do is to make the noise. You don’t gain confidence by alleging corruption which you can’t substantiate, you don’t gain confidence by insulting chiefs or threatening to dethrone chiefs, you don’t gain confidence by insulting people on a [campaign] rally in Lukashya, and you don’t gain confidence by doing all these things, confidence will come the people about your ability by demonstrating that you have a clear economic and social ground and you have created a programme based on that ground.”
And Kafwaya said everything about the Zambia Airlines is done and all remaining is for the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Ethiopian Airlines to decide when to start operating.
“For us as government, we have done everything that needs to be done, we have issued the ALC Air Operator’s license and it is sitting with the Airline itself. We have also gone ahead and ratified the Cape Town convention and deposited it in Italy where it ought to be deposited. So, we are done with that business. It is now left with IDC and Ethiopian Airlines to determine when they begin to tender the service to the Zambian people and others,” said Kafwaya.