MINISTRY of Information Media Director and Spokesperson Thabo Kawana says individuals who are privileged to serve in the UPND government should know that the President will not spare them if they engage in any wrongdoing.
And Kawana says erring contractors will not only be blacklisted from doing business with government but will also be prosecuted.
Speaking when he featured on Camnet TV’s National Matters programme, Monday, Kawana said government officials should not abuse the opportunity given to them to serve the people of Zambia.
“I can assure the nation that anybody amongst us that are privileged to be part and parcel of this government, because it is not a right that we are part and parcel, there are many people that deserve the positions that we are in, most of them better qualified than ourselves. Therefore this is not a right, it is a privilege that we are here and we must utilize this opportunity to serve the people of Zambia to the delight of God. So those of us who have this privilege here, if we abuse it I can assure the people of Zambia that this particular leader will not spare us and you will not answer to him, you will answer to the law,” he said.
“He has said that his mandate is to serve the people of Zambia and when he has chosen you and he warned, he took time to appoint his cabinet and appoint permanent secretaries and he warned that ‘if your desire is to come and do what you see your colleagues that were here before you were doing, think twice’. ‘So even when I appoint you, you must know that this is my trajectory, it will be zero tolerance towards corruption, towards abuse of office, towards misusing public funds, towards abusing the people. So if you form part of my team, these are the rules of the game. And if you go against those rules you will suffer the consequences’.”
Kawana said President Hichilema did not deal with fear or favour, warning that people would face the law if they found themselves on the wrong side of it.
“If there is one thing that the Zambian people will come to learn and understand about this particular President is that he does not deal with fear or favour. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law you will face the law. That is why this country today is sitting in a peaceful environment without cadersim, without extortion that became the order of the day by cadres. Cadres are part and parcel of the political party and that is how you keep your cadres happy by allowing them to go and terrorize the companies, terrorize individuals, make money for themselves so that you concentrate on other things and they do what they want. All the atrocities they commit and when they are brought to you, you pay [a] blind [eye] – not this President,” he said.
And Kawana said erring contractors would not only be blacklisted from doing business with government but would also be prosecuted.
“They will be prosecuted. Remember that we are only but six months in office and there are many more things that are being discovered by the day. And there are many more contractors that have done very bad things to the people of Zambia, all of those will be brought to book. No one will be spared. It is not just a question of saying ‘you have been blacklisted, you will not do business with Zambia’ and it ends there. If you defrauded the people of Zambia, you will answer to what you have done. If you were given a contract to do a road and you haven’t even moved a shovel on that road, before we even talk about a grader or excavator and you have collected millions of Kwacha and you have sat on that money and you have chewed it and you think you can get away with it, it will not happen,” he said.
“The law enforcement agencies are working on that and the people concerned are being called and they are being interrogated and they are being warned and cautioned. Soon arrests will be seen, soon people will be paraded before the courts of law. What government does is to work within the confines of the law. We are a law-abiding government, we will make sure that nobody is treated unfairly. We will not judge you before you are given an opportunity to defend yourself.”
Kawana added that an audit was being carried out to ensure that only companies being owed genuinely by government were paid.
“Any company that has transacted with the government overboard and have not engaged themselves in criminality, in fraudulent activity, have no worry. The process of auditing is ongoing and those companies that are being cleared of having transacted with government in a clean manner and are being owed are being paid. Because the companies are commingled with those companies that didn’t supply a thing, those that supplied umwela (air) are also lining up for money. You are owed K700m for doing nothing. You did not supply, you did not reach your contractual obligations and you want to be paid. So an audit is being carried out to ensure that whoever ought to be paid they are paid because they are being owed genuinely by government,” he said.
Kawana also admitted that there was currently a shortage of drugs in health facilities.
“There are problems right now with the drugs in hospitals, again this falls back on two issues; procurement and the corruption there of the procurement and that is what we are doing now, cleaning up the system. I am sure you saw what happened at ZAMMSA, the entire management currently has been put on forced leave. Their house is being cleaned, a board has been put there headed by one of Zambia’s prominent daughters, madam Anna Chifungula. There is a strong board that the minister has been put in place at ZAMMSA chaired by madam Chifungula. Put in place same day, first thing they do forced leave to investigate what is going on there,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kawana said government was aware that there was a lot of apprehension on the ground but it was working on delivering on its promises.
“We are aware that there is a lot of apprehension on the ground. We are aware that the people are pregnant with expectations and also the time in which most of the people expected that things will change after voting for change realistically speaking the time is still short. We are only six months in office but we appreciate the expectations of the people because the patience has run thin. Like I have said on many fora that the government understands that in as much as patience pays, but we also know patience pains. And as the people are exercising this patience they are in pain. What is good to state is that we are aware of the people’s pain and we are working at ameliorating that pain and ensuring that we deliver to the people,” said Kawana.