DEMOCRATIC Party (DP) president Harry Kalaba says President Edgar Lungu should not distance himself from the Ministry of Health’s issuance of expired drugs, insisting that the Head of State should also resign.
And Kalaba says PF Secretary General Davies Mwila’s revelation that some companies and individuals have paid off former ministers’ debt is corruption.
Speaking on Diamond TV’s Costa programme, Sunday evening, Kalaba said President Lungu’s decision to fire Dr Chitalu Chilufya was long overdue but argued that the damage sustained on the Ministry had already been done.
He, therefore, urged the Head of State to resign in view of his failure to effectively provide supervision on the Ministry’s lapses, which had led to the supply of defective products to the public.
“I can say with confidence that the action has come a little bit too late. A lot of damage has been done in the Ministry of Health and the President chose silence. You will recall the President referred to his former minister of health Dr Chitalu that he was one of his best ministers, and today, he has decided to relieve him of his duties. I can only speculate that it could have been Honeybee, but you know, there have been so many scandals in the Ministry of Health. You know, donor confidence has [reduced] in the Ministry of Health because of the way we have been handling issues there, it has been something else. He has taken his time, it’s four months before elections and it is a mockery,” Kalaba said.
“If it was the issue of the expired drugs, Honeybee, that the President has decided to relieve his minister, then it is something that will be very interesting. I don’t want to believe that the President, himself, is innocent of this thing. Look, expired drugs were sent on the market, some people probably have died as a result of those expired drugs, you had defective condoms sent on the market, so probably we have people that have received various infections as a result of that. That level of negligence amounts to genocide! People have been sent to their graves. The President is not even cracking the whip because it is difficult for me to separate him.”
He stressed that President Lungu should also resign because Dr Chilufya’s dismissal was insufficient.
“We have not seen government address this issue at all. They have elected silence and they want to take it in the cheaper roots. They want to use the cheaper way, saying, ‘we have gotten rid of this one, therefore, then things will be okay.’ I think this matter requires a lot of seriousness, a commission of inquiry probably should even be summoned to look at this matter. I take it that the President was aware that when Honeybee was being given that contract, Honeybee was not fit to even receive a contract of that magnitude. Until the Auditor General’s report picked it, it went to PAC, that is when people started saying, ‘Honey Bee, this thing was already there,’ but the authorities chose silence simply because the people didn’t do anything. Government has remained quiet, I don’t want to believe that firing a minister is going to answer the issue of defective condoms; the firing of a minister is going to answer the issue of the drugs that have been given to Zambians,” he observed.
“The best person, who should actually step down in this matter is the President himself! President Lungu should just own the responsibility and understand that the buck stops with him. You know, sometimes the way he does things, he was making changes the other day with the police and he does this and that, it just baffles me. Resignations in this country are very rare, remember when I resigned, people were organised to go and march against me for resigning. People don’t have to wait to be fired. Some of us are above being fired, when we don’t agree with the thing, we will make progress.”
And Kalaba wondered what motivated some companies to clear former ministers’ debt.
“It is very interesting, actually, and if that is not corruption then what is it? The secretary general of the party said some companies and some friends and well-wishers…So, how can a company stand up and say, ‘we are going to pay for you, a serving Minister?’ That is a conflict of interest already because that company that is paying for you will expect something in return. Again, as always, the President has permitted that because corruption in his government has become endemic. For him, that is okay. That is very very wrong!” exclaimed Kalaba.
“What is not normal is now becoming normal, corruption, now, is the ‘new normal’ in the PF and that is okay. You can even announce, publicly, on TV and say, ‘some companies, some friends…’ except from Harry Kalaba. Thank God I have been removed from that sham of being paid for because those ministers were refusing, ‘no, we can’t pay now…’ They are saying, ‘we need 30 days’, and that’s on Friday; Saturday, there is a press briefing that, ‘money has been found to pay.’ Didn’t they know that before they asked for an extension of the ConCourt? Or they were making a mockery of the judicial process? So, all these things do not reflect well.”