MINISTER of Local Government and Rural Development Gary Nkombo says some people thought President Hakainde Hichilema’s comment of being methodical was just music to their ears when things are actually happening.

And Nkombo says the soft loans being given under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) have no interest attached to them.

Speaking in Parliament, Thursday, Nkombo said the few people who were flashing money in cities were unhappy, while the rest of the country was jubilating following the release of K805 million CDF for the first quarter of this year.

“Seven months ago, there was a lot of money concentrated in few hands. We used to see it on TV and phones. People were flashing it and it was not a secret. Today people are complaining. Those people, who are complaining, are the ones who were benefiting. The chosen few were having money, liquid at all times at the expense of those in rural areas. The difference between the poverty levels in rural areas and the city is too much to contemplate. The President has decided that he will remove money from few people in Lusaka and take it to those in rural areas,” Nkombo said.

“This money has been obtained from government innovation. There is no rocket science. The few who were flashing money are unhappy in the cities here. The rest of the country is jubilating. This is not a miracle but it is about people planning. When the President says we want to be methodical, this is what he means. Some people think it is just music in the ears, it is actually happening. So I do not know how money was spent in PF those days. In the midst of all this, we were left with a debt mountain more than the height of Kilimanjaro.”

Nkombo said his office was open to everyone, including those from the opposition parties.

“My office is open to all members including those from the opposition. I have told my secretaries that even if there is a queue outside, when a member of parliament comes, they must skip the queue. When a chief comes, they must skip the queue. They can attest to the fact that this is how we conduct ourselves in the office. There is no single CDF file that stays in my office for more than 30 minutes as long as I am seated there. For as long as we are here, discriminating people based on their political beliefs will never happen because we are in a democracy. In addition, the interest on soft loans, as far as I know, this is an empowerment programme which is different from grants. Grants are not repayable but soft loans are payable,” he said.

“In as far as I know, there is no interest. Unless I have not read my documents right, there is no interest whatsoever. You just pay it back so that it can help the next wishful person to conduct a project. Again, just to emphasise how everyone is open to [come to] our offices. Without mentioning names, a colleague came to my office from PF and at the end of our conversation, I said to the colleague ‘why has it taken you so long to approach this office?’ His response was ‘I did not know that I would be this welcome. I did not know that you would accommodate us in the manner that you have because we were very bad to you’.”

Meanwhile, Nkombo said the CDF guidelines could be adjusted in order to suit the needs of the constituencies.

“One of the issues of concern is the lack of boarding facilities in many constituencies. This CDF guideline, is a living document. It will have to be adjusted as we get along to suit the desires of man. So where you find yourself in such situations, it will be so nice to write a letter to say ‘we would like to buy desks so that our children do not sit on the floor’. We want to vary this money from boarding fees to buying desks. We will agree. What we want is a decent learning environment for our children,” said Nkombo.