MINISTER of Local Government and Rural Development Gary Nkombo says he has headaches trying to sort out the mess PF left at his ministry, warning that he will not hesitate to expose some PF MPs who benefited from fraud in the road construction sector.
And Nkombo says PF’s policy of empowering youths with road contracts opened up the door to cadres.
Speaking in Parliament, Wednesday, Nkombo said the PF used to give out contracts like “fritters and scones” even when there was no corresponding money in the treasury.
“One of the biggest headaches I have in my Ministry is the issue of procurement against the available [resources]. It was the decision of the government then to stop any project that was below 80 percent with a view to finish those above 80 percent. Sadly, I can confirm that even those that were above 80 percent as at the time Zambians decided to remove them from power, they had not been completed. So we have a huge backlog. Once we do a reasonable clean up, we have a systematic plan of five years in order to salvage all works that were stopped in 2014,” Nkombo said.
“We know who was given township roads with no doubts in our minds. The overriding factor is that even those who were given, they were given over the budgetary allocation. Contracts were being given like fritters and scones to people even when there was no corresponding money in the treasury. Currently, against the budget of 300 million as at 2020, the government had procured roads up to K13 billion. How can you sort out such a thing? Only K4.1 billion has got interim payment certificates. We did an audit and sadly not all are authentic. To put it boldly, there was fraud in that Ministry. To clean up a fraud of obtaining money by false pretense is a serious matter.”
Nkombo said some members of parliament had collected money but failed to deliver their contractual obligations.
“It was the PF that over procured these roads. They are the causers of this headache that I have. If he is in a hurry for solutions to be found, we will find a solution. Unfortunately, some of the solutions will entail arresting some of these people. Some of them are in this House for collecting money and not doing the roads. If you want us to play hardball, we know how to play hardball. Do not tempt me to name you because you are here. What I have observed is they are taking some of our kindness for a weakness. If you are innocent, keep quiet,” he said.
“There are some of you in this House who should not even open their mouths on account of these roads. So do not push me beyond the wall. If you want us to play hardball and depart from the decency of trying to sort out the problem the PF created in our Ministries, we will name and shame them in this House and you are here. Sympathise with those who are threatened of being arrested when the time comes. The late PF did a good job by allowing participation of youths to have 20 percent of any work done. Therein became a huge compromise because it became a jackpot for political cadres.”
Nkombo said 245 contractors had been summoned but were scared of exculpating themselves.
“We have invited 245 contractors to come to our office so that we can face each other but they do not come. They are scared to come to the office because they know they have abrogated their own safety to come. Most of them, 90 percent of them were PF cadres including MPs in this House. They do not want to come, instead they send third parties to go and lobby for payments. We are not paying you and there will be no compromise on that. I might sound like I am issuing a threat but do not push me to the wall because we are going [to] name and shame,” said Nkombo.
“We have invited all these people. This phone is loaded with your colleagues. There is no need to be excited and get upset about facts. We have asked them to come but none of them have come. We have been to PACRA and we know exactly who exactly they are. We owe them 4.1 million, why aren’t they coming? The guilty are afraid. They cannot face this face but I am still giving them a chance to explain. Dankel, the owner, I do not know if he is district chairperson for PF in Lusaka. When the President was saying they were awarding contracts with people who do not have a shovel, this is what he was talking about. If you push me, I will publish this list. Time for games is over.”