PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has revealed that some Eastern Province procurement officials who attempted to issue a K850,000 contract for a small two bedroomed rural house, which should cost about K200,000, are out.

And President Hichilema says he is confident government will grow the economy even when things are bad.

He said this when he swore in Evaristo Kalonga – Chairperson Zambia Correctional Service Commission, Dr Lubinda Mutinta Musonda – Permanent Secretary Administration Cabinet Office, and Angela Chomba Kawandami- Permanent Secretary Special Duties Cabinet Office.

Others sworn in were Mervis Nkomeshya – Permanent Secretary Special Duties Cabinet Office, Lillian Musonda Kapusana Permanent Secretary Administration Office of the Vice-President and Robert Kamalata- Permanent Secretary provincial administration Lusaka Province. Sebastian Akapelwa was also sworn in as Permanent Secretary provincial administration Western Province.

President Hichilema said tender committees had continued to give contracts at a higher price.

“If you carry on buying…Vice-President, tender committees under these PSs have continued to give contracts at a high price against the three rules, correct price, quality, and timely delivery. It means the permanent secretaries are not supervising the tender committees yet you are the controlling officers. You want a President to walk from State House to your ministry to sit in a tender committee? No! Aikona man! It is you to carry your part there. We have had an incident, one, two, three where new permanent secretaries are sitting and they are ignoring what is going on there. A small two bedroom house which should cost K200,000, they attempted to issue a contract for K850,000 for one small two bedroom rural house. What is going on? Where is the permanent secretary?” President Hichilema asked.

“Luckily, that permanent secretary was awake and simply said ‘this won’t happen’. And that procurement officer, for the media, because I hear a lot that the new dawn government is not fighting corruption happening now, that is not true. Those officials are out. Check with the Permanent Secretary Eastern Province, he will tell you those officials are out and that should continue happening maybe people will learn a lesson that we are serious. But it is you to help protect public resources. Imagine K850,000 less to K200,000 what is the saving there? K650,000 savings. It means we can build three more homes in total, four homes, if not we can buy medicines for a clinic.”

He called on the permanent secretaries to enforce UPND policies.

“That is the way you should look at things. So you are privileged you are going in slightly later, you can do better please. I don’t have to preach to fellow citizens, if we share a vision, we share policies, why are we differing at the implementation level? If Zambians ask you, how is it that somebody wanted to sneak a fast one like that, it means they don’t agree with the policies of the UPND, enforce them. Get to know your teams,” he said.

The Head of State said he was staying focussed despite all the noise because he was still studying the situation.

“One of the things I do myself, I get a new responsibility, I learnt this from business as a young person, I don’t rush. People make a lot of noise and accusations, I stay focused, it is to study the situation I have gone into first, understand where the issues are emanating from, then you can begin to tackle them. We understand why this economy collapsed, we understand how institutions began to collude with suppliers, government officials colluded with suppliers, how will citizens be protected? Then you are surprised why the economy went down from seven percent to zero,” he said.

“Why are you surprised? It is these issues such as building a house, contract at K850,000 instead of K600,000 when you add these, the economy collapses. Please be the eyes of the 18 million Zambians. Namikupa, Ndemilomba, Nakumphempani (I beg of you). Be a reflection of change that our citizens desire. Provide effective leadership. Resources are always scarce. How you use them is what matters. But effective utilization of resources, optimal utilization of resources, we will grow this economy.”

And President Hichilema insisted that his government would change the country.

“I have never been this confident even when things are bad. The work I have done, traveling to New York, Washington, travelling to UAE, traveling to Glasgow, travelling to Addis Ababa just last week, I sat on the plane, I said ‘we are going to change our country. We will change our country.’ But that requires your participation, your commitment. We wish you the best in your roles, we love you. If you don’t love us in return, at least love the 18 million Zambians then we will be okay,” President Hichilema said.

He said he was proud that the majority of those sworn in were women.

“Today I feel proud that the majority of those being sworn in are women. Four out of the seven are women. Congratulations. You are the legion of women in our country. Thank you for accepting to serve the people of Zambia under our administration, the New dawn administration,” he said.

President Hichilema urged the Permanent Secretaries to help in reuniting the country.

“Our country was divided. I must confess, Vice-President, I thought after appointing ministers and permanent secretaries, then downwards things will start happening, the issue of professionalism, the issue of unity, inclusion not exclusions, not segregation. Apparently, the cadre of staff below yourselves have not caught up with the song. It is you to make sure that that song of reuniting the country, bringing back inclusion as a concept, merit as a concept that we live with and also fairness now rests on you,” President Hichilema said.

“The President’s appointment ends at you, the rest now you pick it up. It is like a relay, you pick the baton from us, then push it down, the vision, the policies, the desire to keep our country together as a unitary state where fairness, equity applies. If you carry on with the old habits of dividing people, segregating people, segregating people, then you are not playing your part.”

Meanwhile, President Hichilema urged the Zambia Correctional Service Commission chairperson to change the welfare of facilities.

“Mr Kalonga, you have been at the Commission before. Now you are going there as chairperson. Amongst the members appointed to that commission, you are one who is a professional in this area, one of those. But now that you are the one chairing the Commission as a professional in this area, we expect you to work very hard at that commission. We expect you to deliver the services. As a former client, maybe a future client, I don’t know, but as a former client of correctional services, what is obtaining there is unacceptable, it is inhumane. We undertook as a government to change the welfare of the correctional service facilities,” President Hichilema said.

“Ventilation, congestion, water and sanitation, just cleaning the places. Just sweeping, to cut tree branches, make them into a broom, you can sweep the correctional service. They can be swept including using the people that are there. I used to sweep my own place, I found it filthy but I tried to scrub the walls. It shouldn’t be optional. It should be mandatory for those places to be clean.”

He said government had bought enough mattresses and blankets for every prisoner in the country.

“Vice-President, one of our commitments as a government was to make sure that fellow citizens who are in those conditions, many of whom are innocent like I was, ought to sleep in decent places. There should be no reason that any correctional service cell must have fecal matter in there. That is where I used to sleep. It is unacceptable! We undertook to make sure that prisoners receive mattresses, blankets, the checklist, include what I have said. Madam Vice-President, as of today, we have bought enough mattresses and blankets for every prisoner in this country. So, there should be no reason that prisoners are sleeping on the floor,” said President Hichilema.

“Then we can move on to other things. The Commission is the supervisor of the correctional service, you the chairman. So go away, do this checklist including other others that we have not spoken about, bring it back to us. Let us start ticking one by one. I guess I am loud and clear. Transformation is the agenda of those who are occupying those apartments. I call them apartments, and you know what I mean. It is not to beat them up, it is not to make them harden. Unfortunately, people are hardened out of there, they must become better citizens. Work as a team, prioritise even the welfare of correctional officers who sometimes are treated like clients themselves.”

The Head of State also insisted that families should not be torn apart by transfers.