INFRASTRUCTURE, Housing and Urban Development Minister Charles Milupi says government houses that are not occupied currently by ministers and other officials are undergoing renovations.

Commenting on Pambashe PF member of parliament Ronald Chitotela’s remarks that Cabinet Ministers were wasting money by not occupying government houses, Milupi said in an interview that as far as he was concerned, all houses had been allocated to officers who qualified for them.

He also argued that since UNIP, some ministers have opted not to stay in government houses.

“The impression that he is trying to make that Ministers have not moved in is totally false. In every government, going back even in UNIP days, there were Ministers who opted not to stay in government houses. I can give you various examples for various reasons. If Chitotela was being honest, he would point out that ‘we have this empty house, this house is not allocated’, that is not the situation. As far as I am concerned all houses have been allocated to officers who qualify for houses. The so called Ministerial Houses, they are just not reserved for Ministers, there are other officers who qualify for those houses like Secretary to the Cabinet, IG, Army Commanders,” he said.

“This has been the trait throughout. So what has happened now, because I think from 1964 there has not been a single Ministerial House built, a new one, so we are using the same houses, so the numbers don’t balance. So there are more officers requiring these houses than there are those houses. So the fact that this particular Minister is not in this house does not mean that there is a vacant house just there doing nothing.”

He said the ones that were not occupied were undergoing renovations.

“The ones that are not yet occupied, right now I have Ministers talking to me about renovations of their houses. Like I said there are certain officers that qualify for those houses for example like chief whip that is a ministerial position, like for example leader of opposition that is a ministerial position. So there are various officers, we don’t just look at Ministers and say ‘so there must be a Minister’s house empty somewhere’, no! That is not the case. All houses have been allocated. The ones that are not yet occupied, they are undergoing renovations. Because of the state of our finances sometimes it takes a bit long, but not only the state of finances, we also have a very elaborate procurement process of contractors who carry out these renovations,” Milupi said.

“But in government, you have some who opt to stay out and I don’t think that it is just not happening in the new dawn administration. You reporters carry out your research, were all the Ministers in ministerial houses? These houses, they are not allocated that if you have a minister of this portfolio, this is a house, no! It is very fluid, anyone can go in any house. Some Ministers, some who have not yet entered, have said ‘this particular renovation is not going well, this particular one they have not finished’, because they are desperate to move.”

And Milupi said the tendering process for the Lusaka-Ndola Dual Carriageway was progressing well and that the matter was before the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Council.

“It is going well, again it is only these procurement things, the matter is before the PPP council,” said Milupi.