PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says there are many broken things in the Ministry of Finance, noting that even none deserving suppliers who might have supplied fictitious goods used to be on the priority list of being paid.
And President Hichilema has tasked the new Attorney General and Solicitor General to put an end to criminality in the award and execution of contracts where some suppliers were paid two or three times for the same job.
Speaking after he swore in Secretary to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa and Bank of Zambia Governor Dr Denny Kalyalya Thursday, President Hichilema said he could not understand how the former Secretary to the Treasury would allow payment of funds that would end up in private pockets.
“The Ministry of Finance is critical to fulfilling people’s desire for economic transformation. You are aware of the dealings in the Ministry of Finance. You know how payments are made. Even none deserving suppliers get paid first in that Ministry. None deserving suppliers are paid who probably supplied fictitious goods. We hope you can deal with that and focus on expenditure that is tilted towards revenue generation so that we can create jobs. I urge you to apply your vast professional experience in this area. There are many broken things in that Ministry,” President Hichilema said.
“I do not want to be presumptuous but I cannot imagine how the Secretary to the Treasury would allow payment of funds that end up into private pockets. With full knowledge that public funds meant for the people of Zambia are somehow moved out of the purview of citizens through your offices and end up in private pockets with intent to deprive citizens and children with opportunities. I am talking of what we have seen and what we are pursuing right now. So we want to pursue the old problems we do not want to continue with the mismanagement of that Treasury.”
President Hichilema said the Central Bank now had the political will to perform its rightful role.
“Dr Kalyalya, you know the challenges and you know why the bank was not performing well. Partially, it is because there was no political will to do the right things. The political will under this government is there to get the bank to play its rightful role. You saw things where the Central Bank was not being supported to manage the financial system in this country and support economic growth. The support is there and let us deliver to the people. The good news is that you can now do the things you were not able to do all for the good of the people. This is my way of encouraging you to be positively aggressive,” he said.
“The political leadership, the Minister of Finance, ZRA, Minister of Mines, Minister of Commerce and other government functionaries will give you the support. We need to design long term financial products like mortgages. We are determined with this team to bring medium and long term financial instruments that will help us deliver affordable credit to our people, especially housing. We need to link accommodation availability and financing even for a driver in a Ministry. I am extremely concerned how money can bleed under our eyes. I am concerned about the exchange rate. We are concerned about export revenues not impacting on the exchange rate. There is something going on there and we need to fix that.”
Meanwhile, speaking after he swore in Attorney General Mulilo Kabesha and Solicitor General Marshal Muchende, President Hichilema tasked them to end criminality in the award and execution of contracts.
“All citizens of Zambia have equal opportunities to serve this country in different roles and I hope that settles the hearts of some people. I hope you grant the respectability that belongs to the courts and the judiciary because the positions you will occupy going forward are critical to the delivery of justice in our country. We need to respect human rights, liberties and freedoms. We wish you to render advice to us in a manner that respects the rights of citizens as enshrined in our Bill of Rights. Citizens also have to obey the laws because the combination delivers a fair environment for the rule of law to obtain. So we believe that you will discharge your duties diligently and not to the President but to the people of Zambia. People have suffered for years and they need to be redeemed,” he said.
“There is excessive delay in the delivery of justice. We have to work as a team to find a way of speeding up delivery of justice to our people. Justice delayed is justice denied. Citizens expect justice, you are not judges but you are critical in the delivery of justice. This country is losing a lot of money on paying fictitious creditors. People who have supplied air to government are paid millions of dollars. People who have supplied expired drugs are paid millions of dollars and sometimes one invoice is paid twice or three times. We need to address the illegalities issue which is causing Zambians to lose millions of Kwacha which ought to go to the youth, sick and retirees.”
President Hichilema insisted that he was not available to continue facilitating wastage of public resources.
“Two months in office and I am sure Zambians are surprised. I have been trying to understand in greater detail how the government systems have failed the people of Zambia and I am shocked with what I have discovered. If these people standing here were to be told what was obtaining in government, that was going on for 10 years, they would fall off where they are standing. There are staggering amounts of money. Everybody appeared to think the President is awkward but I am not awkward. They think I am not quite normal because it became normal to steal money from the public. The good news is that there are millions of Zambians who support the utilisation of resources. Legal opinions were rendered to the government to execute agreements that work against the people of Zambia. There were agreements that resulted in citizens paying millions of Dollars,” said President Hichilema.
“We expect you to put your foot down and render advice to your government that will assist us in saving resources from being stolen and taken away then applied in meaningful areas. An assumption is being made now that the UPND government and its Alliance partners are just supposed to change officers. It is expected that I must continue facilitating the wastage of resources but I am not available for that and I have no second thoughts of doing what is right. I expect this team to do what is right for the people of Zambia. We need to change how legal opinions are rendered. Your selection is to move us away from abnormal behavior taken as normal so that what is right becomes normal in this country. Do not front fear in your roles because if you front fear, you will not make it. Just do what is right.”