VICE-PRESIDENT Mutale Nalumango says everyone should brace themselves for a difficult time because no one knows when the Russia and Ukraine war will end.
And Vice-President Nalumango has insisted that government is still waiting for people who might have been involved in corrupt activities to voluntarily surrender their loot.
Asked by Chama North PF member of parliament Yotam Mtayachalo during the Vice-President’s question time, Friday, whether or not government had plans to reintroduce fuel subsidies due to anticipated increase in the commodity price, Vice-President Nalumango said that’s something she couldn’t say.
She, however, said government was trying to find some cheaper sources of the commodity.
“Yes it is true we don’t foresee, and it is not easy for us to foresee how soon the war in Ukraine will come to an end. This means therefore, Madam Speaker, that all of us should brace ourselves for some difficult time. But to suggest [for us] to immediately reverse the issue of oil subsidy is again something I can’t sit here and say. The honourable has said if the oil prices reach unsustainable levels, what is government going to do? I will tell you that the plan will come at that time. For now, we have decided and we are negotiating, I think you heard yesterday, my President is trying to find some cheaper sources where we could get the oil. We are working hard to ensure that we can have reserves, but even reserves are not enough depending on how long the war goes on. We have to continuously work with the international community and source cheaper commodities. That indeed is a rough time, it is not an easy time for us to handle, but we are thinking, we are not sitting without thinking of solutions, but I cannot give you the solutions right now,” she said.
And Vice-President Nalumango said government was still waiting for people who may have been involved in corrupt activities to surrender the money.
“I will say the President has not given any Amnesty, the law is the one which gives that Amnesty under the Anti-Corruption. It is law, he is just reminding people of the law as it exists. There is no limit, even as we are talking, prosecutions are going on. I was talking to somebody, I said why aren’t these people being prosecuted. When you hear persecution, honourable members, it is actually prosecution, they just don’t know how to put it. People are being prosecuted in the Fast Track. If you went yesterday there were eight high profile cases in the fast track,” she said.
“Cases are going on in the fast track courts but you know issues of financial crimes are not the easiest things to handle, there are too many people involved. Even that, we are trusting that our courts can unwind and find the culprits wanting and let them get convicted. There will soon be convictions, I believe, so it is going on. The President is still waiting by the law for the people to bring back and I am repeating, bring back if you got what is not lawfully yours, bring back! We will forgive you but disclose everything that you got then we will do well.”
Vice-President Nalumango said individuals who were calling the corruption fight persecution, were being insincere.
“The President wants people to be wealthy, that is why the policy that we have put in place here is that even investors that are coming to Zambia must partner with Zambians. But to acquire wealth unlawfully and you call that persecution, honourable members of this House, let us be sincere as we look at issues. There is no need to persecute anybody, every Zambian has a right but there is no need to change prosecution to persecution. Some of you seated here were also PF and were also ministers, why haven’t you also been followed if it is persecution, why? If you are arrested for a wrong reason, you will be exonerated by facts. And it is good for you that your name is clean. So nobody is persecuting anybody. But if you were wrong, I stand here on behalf of this government, we want to prosecute you and in fact if you did wrong you need to be convicted. There is no way we are going to persecute people, then we are inconsistent in our thinking. We want to unite but in unity, we will not allow criminality,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Nalumango said the UPND government would not politicize the public service.
“Public service is a non-political entity of governance. When you over politicize government, then you are destroying the country. Therefore, I will not agree with my honourable member that we remove PF members to put UPND members in the same manner, in an unprofessional manner. I hope I am making a point. What it means is that whoever was put in that senior position not because of anything else, but because of unprofessional conduct, such must be removed, they are destroying the country. We want professionals in those positions. Whether we say they are UPND sympathisers, they must be professional, that is number one, that is the criteria for employment. It should not be a cadre who goes there to do politics. When are we going to clean up the civil service, it has to be case by case and on sincere and not witch hunt. We want to have a proper public service full of professionals,” said Vice-President Nalumango.