MINISTER of Local Government and Urban Development Gary Nkombo says no officer at his ministry will be fired so that they can provide information, especially on the land illegalities which characterised the past regime.
Responding to a question from UPND Chifubu MP Lloyd Lubozha who wanted to find out what measures government would take against officers who authorised documentation for illegally erected structures in parliament, Friday, Nkombo observed that under the previous administration, council workers were under siege and cadres became more powerful than ministers.
“One thing that is clear, Madam Speaker, even the officers that the honourable Member of Parliament is referring to as people who did wrong is that they were all under siege. So it becomes difficult to decipher who wantonly decided to do this against those who were cowed down by the very bare fact that we all know that the cadres became even stronger sometimes than the ministers of government. That is a statement that cannot go contested. In the dark years the cadres became more powerful than ministers of government, something that we cannot do here where we are seated. I could never allow a cadre to run my office. Now that being the case, we have to be extremely careful not to go into pegging officers of government because they are the bank, they are the depository for information we need in order to verify certain things,” Nkombo said.
“Let me give an example of the building that is coming up on Thabo Mbeki road under pylons. Madam Speaker, my colleague Minister of Lands and myself just two days ago went to see how this Pakistani man built on top of sewer lines, on top of water service lines and underneath 330 KV ZESCO pylons. Our inquiry, a joint inquiry, reviewed that this man had a title deed, a document of ownership. And further investigations reviewed that this title deed did not go through the Lusaka City Council and the time that this title now surfaced at Lusaka City Council, the councillors at that time in the dark years decided that in the last day of PF being in government, let me be very precise, they had a council meeting and they decided to legalize that title deed and they are not there. Now, so how in the world do I go to the council officer and say because you signed here I am going to fire you? I want you to know that we are in here for servitude and that is why we have continuously asked the civil servants, council workers that are working now under our supervision to be calm to just help us with as much information about the malpractice which had slid this country, which one would call corporate malfunction in terms of governance. So we need those people to tell us. So we haven’t got what it takes in the ministry to tell whether it was initiated by desire for pecuniary benefit or anything so we are not firing anyone just now. We want our workers to work in peace but to usher us with information that may help us to fairly reverse this trend.”
And responding to another question from Lumezi independent member of parliament Munir Zulu who wanted to know what practical action government was taking against cadres, Nkombo insisted that the new dawn government would not entertain cadreism.
“Those involved in vices that are in conflict with the law are going to be alone together with the law. And the example I would give you now, in Luapula we had some caders believed to be UPND who tried to disturb an investment the police moved in there and arrested them. I am sure this is public information. They arrested them and the due process of the law is going to take its course. I am grateful for this question because it sort of rests the fact that we are determined to make sure that law and order is restored in this country forever until Jesus Christ comes back,” he said.
And Nkombo said some people were daring the new administration by using it as a path to engage in illegal activities.
“At the time when Mr Hichilema was sworn in, he indicated that there shall be no caderism in markets, in bus stations. Let me take Libala market which you cite as an example for people erecting illegal structures without planning permission, just as an example, is that this is rampant especially in the big cities of Zambia Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, Chipata not so much in Livingstone where people disregard the local authorities, the planning departments did not mean anything under PF. They did not only take away the planning permission, they also took away the revenue collection for these planning authorities thereby leaving them all paralysed,” said Nkombo.
“The process has begun to bring back normalcy and as you know yourself, the only area that we have not tackled in full is that of people who are trading in not designated places commonly known as street vendors. But in terms of developments that are illegal, there are some daring people who sometimes would want to use the current administration as an example, as a path to continue the misbehaviour and the malpractice of yesteryear. This particular trend is coming to an end in not so distant future. We have given warnings; we have given moratorium to those who have built illegal structures around Lusaka. Kasangula road is one example that I can give where the council was completely overpowered by political players to build wantonly anywhere including existing tar mark roads. We have now agreed among ourselves that because we are dealing with a people centric matter, we’re going to shepard these people away from these areas.”