PEOPLE’S Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda says it is wrong for parastatal companies to purchase vehicles on a regular basis, especially now that the economy is not performing well.

The Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) said it bought about 40 vehicles to replace its fleet after being accused of buying the vehicles for Patriotic Front campaigns.

But in an interview, Banda said it was surprising that people who were driving company vehicles or parastatal vehicles wanted to change them every three years rather than servicing and keeping them longer.

“It is very surprising that when people are driving company vehicles or parastatal vehicles, they want to change them every three years and these are vehicles that are brand new. And we know that vehicles are sold to senior managers and directors of that organisation, yet the majority of Zambians buy second hand vehicles from Japan which they use even for five years, even more. Most parastatal bodies can use those vehicles for 10 years. When they buy those vehicles, they buy the latest ones and yet most Zambians buy vehicles that were manufactured in 2002. So looking at the fact that our economy is not doing fine and that we need to change our priorities, it is very wrong for parastatal bodies including Zesco, Worker’s Compensation Fund, NAPSA to be purchasing vehicles on a regular basis,” Banda said.

“In as much as we understand that they have to be efficient, they have to deliver services, they should increase their depreciation period. It should be taken note that government and parastatal bodies must not buy vehicles for a minimum of seven years because those vehicles will still be operational. They need to make sure that these vehicles are taken care of, they need to ensure that the service is done regularly and this can save us a lot of costs. We, as PAC, believe that when we form government, we are going to put a freeze on the purchase of assets and ensure that we increase the depreciation period.”

And Banda said the UPND government seemed to be having challenges in fulfilling their promises.

“Our areas of concern as PAC are that the promises that were given to the people are not being fulfilled. It is like there is a challenge in fulfilling the promises. We do understand that not all promises can be fulfilled but there is no direction that has been demonstrated to show that this is where we are going. We needed to have proper roadmaps to say, ‘we are going to do this, if IMF [deal] doesn’t happen, this is how we are going to do things’. We cannot just bank the whole economy based on one programme, we need to be thinking outside the box,” he said.

“I believe there is not much creativity in how we are going to sort out our challenges in this country, we are just using the same methods. And obviously, the fact is that most of the people who are in government are still the old people, so, we have not employed people who can come up with creative ideas to use local methods to come up with solutions we are facing such as unemployment, lack of empowerment for small businesses and lack of land distribution.”

He added that the UPND might not be able to deliver most of the promises in the next five years.

“Some of the things could have happened two months after the UPND formed government but up to now, there is no direction. We have sent people to find out what is happening at the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise, there is nothing! They don’t have forms, they don’t have anything that shows that they have got a purpose that they are serving. I am afraid that the UPND might not be able to deliver on most of the promises in the next five years because we have not seen any will to do that so far. Anyone who was aspiring to lead this country needed to have a plan to sort out problems without bringing the excuse of the debt,” said Banda.

“There are many ways of achieving many things without worrying about debt. The UPND promised reforms, what reforms have they brought? Is the Ministry of Justice also dealing with debt? Is the Ministry of Lands also looking at the issue of debt? There are a lot of areas that if only proper restructuring was done, it can open up opportunities. If we can allocate land to people, that could give them something that they can use to have business. Yesterday (Wednesday), the President was meeting the executive from the Bankers Association who claimed that they are working hard to help SMEs, what are they doing to help SMEs? Nothing! So, the government needs to be proactive, it is not proactive.”