On face value, former minister of Community Development and Social Services Emerine Kabanshi stood out as the most decent and innocent Cabinet Minister. She was generally absent from the news headlines, save for a few occasions when she would officiate at a donor event or social cash transfer launch.
She could as well have been the most incompetent minister at the same time and we couldn’t notice because her absence was too present. In fact, this is probably what cost her the job – too naïve. Honourable Kabanshi was too raw to work with experienced crooks in this government. She followed the wind and it has now blown away her dress, leaving her completely exposed while the real fraudsters have remained afloat.
There are many people out there who are defending the former minister, saying she is a sacrificial lamb. Maybe that is true in the context that corruption in this PF administration runs from top to bottom. The higher the office, the more corrupt it is. But we do not agree with the notion that Honourable Kabanshi was completely innocent. Yes, she is a political innocent and maybe she didn’t understand that she would be the one to be sacrificed when the filth hits the fan, but she can’t come out clean on this one.
In saying this, we are not suggesting that Honourable Kabanshi is guilty of pocketing any social cash transfer funds, but we can speak with confidence that she abused donor money to campaign for President Edgar Lungu. We witnessed her do this with other ministers who have remained in government.
In February this year, Honourable Kabanshi, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela, and Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa, among other PF officials, used ZAF planes to fly to Luapula Province to campaign for President Lungu. At the said campaign rallies, Kabanshi, with help from other Cabinet Ministers, distributed tonnes of cash and thousands of cell phones to the voters in the name of social cash transfer benefits.
During that meeting, Kabanshi and her fellow ministers told the people that the money and cell phones they were receiving was coming directly from President Lungu because he was a caring leader. Kabanshi and her gang persuaded the people to vote for President Lungu in 2021 because he was the only one who could give them such amounts of money and free gifts.
“Ba Lungu bali bomba. Bali mupela ulupiya uwabalanda kuno ku Samfya, impendwa ifikile kuli 17,000 abantu bali pali social cash transfer. Ukufuma apo banamayo, mwe bali 2000 nalimiletela ama phone, namutampa nokufola ama K1,000 mwebali 2000. Bushe kukaba umuntu ukeisa mipela impiya efyo baLungu balemipela? Takwakabe aini? (Mr Lungu has worked. He gave you money for the poor here in Samfya and the Social Cash Transfer programme has reached 17,000 people. And for the women, I already brought phones for 2,000 of you and you are already getting paid K1,000 each. Do you think anyone else will come and give you money the way Mr Lungu is giving you? There will be no one),” said Kabanshi.
“Social Cash Transfer nalamipela naiimbi ikeisafika 23,000 (Social Cash Transfer will reach more people so that it covers 23,000 people). Eh kumitemwa bamitemwa ba Lungu (this is how much Mr Lungu loves you). So, vote for him in 2021.”
While the bosses at ZamPost were buying luxury cars under the watch of Honourable Kabanshi, this is how the remainder of British aid was used to campaign for PF, as if it was the Presidential Empowerment Fund. This minister was fully aware that money was being diverted from the intended elderly and vulnerable beneficiaries, and given to those who attended PF campaign rallies. She allowed the misuse of funds, thinking as long as she was campaigning heavily for President Lungu, she was safe.
Later, it emerged publicly that hundred thousands of social cash transfer beneficiaries were not getting their money. We asked Honourable Kabanshi on March 28 this year, why people were not receiving social cash transfer funds and her answer was that it was normal.
“That’s normal; people should understand that government does not always have money. You know, what happens in our households is what happens at higher level, but as a caring government, we are committed to this programme, and we will make sure that we pay them because there is no President who loves the poor more than this one. But for now, government has no money,” said Kabanshi.
Dear readers, Honourable Kabanshi has been used and flushed away like toilet paper, but her innocent public outlook will not fool us. She fully participated in the misuse of donor aid. Yes, it is extremely unfair and evil to single out a naïve participant like Honourable Kabanshi and throwing her in the dungeon, but this is a lesson to the rest of the remaining Cabinet ministers who are committing wrongs to please President Lungu.
When Honourable Kabanshi was distributing money and cell phones in Luapula, she was in a multitude. She was in the midst of experienced crooks who helped her dish out campaign gifts bought from donor money. Today, she has been isolated and shamed. The President whom she was trying to please has ordered the attack dogs to find her guilty so that he protects his own image.
Like we said before, this is a government of mafias, for mafias, by mafias. If you can’t survive in a casino, leave now before you are destroyed. Kabanshi is gone, who is next?