PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has admitted that some PF-aligned civil servants still serving in government are sabotaging a lot of things and could be destroying evidence but says everything is being monitored closely.
And President Hichilema says a government official who was arbitrarily recalling and dispatching people into the Foreign Service was fired two days ago.
Meanwhile, President Hichilema says it is debatable to say women are being left out of decision making positions, revealing that a soon to be unveiled State House permanent secretary is a lady.
Speaking when he featured on a Radio Phoenix phone-in programme, Monday, President Hichilema said he was aware that some people were agitated by the slow pace at which he was making appointments, but it was because his administration was fixing so many things in the background.
Asked whether he was not worried that there was a lot of sabotage and destruction of evidence going on, President Hichilema said everything was being closely watched.
“It is possible to do that. The good news is that those who are buying something, you do not buy from your left pocket to put it in your right pocket. You would have talked to somebody and you would have dealt with somebody. The motivation for a thief is not just usage by value for what they are stealing, it is also greed. That is why we already know what is going on and someone is talking. Part of the framework we are putting is a toll free number, the community who drove change. So what would you delete and how much can you delete? But it is possible, I am agreeing but the way we are moving takes into account that that is not long. We are studying things and checking everything. The rot of corruption involved many people. It will not happen where a person is caught with corruption and continues in office. You want to be a Permanent Secretary in the UPND government, search your soul. Some of them want to be Permanent Secretaries to continue doing what those who were there were doing,” President Hichilema said.
“On the other side, this is not a military coup to clean out everybody because some people can be managed as long as we have the systems in place. Patience does help and yesterday we made changes after reviewing and checking methodically and lining the ducks in the row in making sure that the Ministers came first in diversity and reuniting the country. The PSs are coming through, the boards are going one by one and then within a short time, you will realise that three months is a short time. We are on track and I understand the anxiety the people have; they expect the UPND government to drop the changes, we are organised and we want to reduce the mistakes made in the past but at the same time making sure we understand. The ZESCO board is gone and the next move is known, anyone who is clever and logical knows that is next.”
And in apparent reference to former Foreign Affairs Ministry permanent secretary Dr Ronald Simwinga, President Hichilema said that two days ago, he fired someone who had arbitrarily recalled and appointed some people to foreign service.
“What we found out is that when we were being sworn in some Ministries, Permanent Secretaries and departments were now employing people out of their own discretion. They were wending people to foreign missions to circumvent us looking at this issue. There was a pattern in this country where appointment in the public serviced and local government was only given to people from two or three regions out of 10 provinces. You could see the mad rush to send people, send people and promote people but that was mischief. That is why it was suspended. Even now some people are sneaking in one or two things but we are looking at it and some we are reversing so that we can bring equity at that level and bring people on merit. It was well intended and it will be lifted very soon although some people have breached it,” President Hichilema said.
“I will give you an example, we recalled some ambassadors and high commissioners but somebody around decided to recall so many other people without the authority. Fixing people that they did not like, then prepared a list to dispatch and replace those people without recourse to appropriate authority, sneaking. That is mischief but we dealt with it two days ago. That person is gone but it is not that we hate them. You cannot be mischievous when the government is trying to right things. Some family members of Kaputa are qualified but have never served in the Foreign Service because the previous government had nepotism. Through this devolution, we get to know talent from the local area.”
Meanwhile, President Hichilema said it was debatable to say women were being left out of decision making positions.
“It is debatable to say women are being left out. This government will not discriminate against women. You will see a lot more roles of responsibilities coming through for women. It is also true that the women have not been left out. For the first time, the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly was chosen. The first Deputy Speaker is a woman and the Labour Minister is a woman. The Health Minister is a woman, Information and Media Minister is a woman,” President Hichilema said.
“Several women have come through and maybe we have not pronounced it properly given the limited number of women who made it to Parliament for different reasons, including violence. Unfortunately our constitution restricts us from appointing cabinet from inside parliament; fewer women came through from all the parties. Partially, it was the violence which we are reigning in and we expect more women to come through in the next round. And maybe I should reveal something, the permanent secretary State House, the one who will be in charge of everything around here is a woman. The Vice-President is a woman. So this is of vital importance to us. The women you are welcome but be prepared to bring merit to the table.”
President Hichilema said the UPND government was set to deliver a decentralized budget to benefit Zambians.
“For the budget in our country, the government knew that there were only two items which is debt service and public sector emoluments. There was really nothing for the citizens. For the first budget, we are putting in place decentralization and bringing devolution at the centre. We will be moving money from the thieves in the urban centres. The few that are privileged to occupy public office, as you will see, as we start assets recovery, huge moneys and gluttonous behaviour, one person will take millions of dollars. You will see that, we have been working methodically and when the results start showing, you will be very pleased with us,” President Hichilema said.
“We learnt the lesson of the task force where there was little recovery, we will focus on retrieving the money then allocate it and see where it can be directed including education, health, youth support and other areas. But very important, the youth must know that we need to do these things first in order to create resources. You will see the first budget of the UPND will move resource gradually towards the local areas. We are also working to ensure that when communities receive resources, they do not become the new thieves. We need accountability and the Auditor General will be auditing. Contracts will be given to that devolution fund to the local suppliers of goods and services. First time in the history of this country, we will have a national budget being debated alongside a constituency budget in the council chambers debating issues of water, health including a scholarship fund at the local level. Zambians will see this starting next year.”
President Hichilema said the UPND Allinace did not over-promise but was set to deliver free education, which was the bare minimum.
President Hichilema said the media must regulate itself and be objective.
“The media will be protected and the media will self-regulate. There were issues about the media self-regulation and freedom of the media. The media is the fourth estate and we have lived by our word by getting the media to regulate themselves. Get on with the work, regulate yourselves, we are all waiting and the ball is in your court now. I am surprised that the media is reasonably quiet when for years you could not have this opportunity. Regulate yourselves, be professional and be fair. Facts matter because you cannot destroy people who are innocent,” President Hichilema said.
“I am a victim of that because I have been the most discriminated. I have been the most arrested, the most abused and some media organisations ran a campaign against HH. Anything was thrown at me by the media. Self-regulation means being responsible and be accountable to yourself and the people. You need to be professional by simply telling the truth and the truth does not hurt. You need to be balanced with that screaming headline without being hurtful. I am not preaching how you should behave but I am simply saying responsibility is important.”
President Hichilema also said he would this week appoint a Presidential policy compliance advisor.