Why did the First Lady need seven police officers, three secretaries, a cook, cleaner, bedroom attendant and waiter for 15 days in America to receive this fleet of dinosaur fire trucks? Is this what taxpayers’ money was wasted on? President Lungu’s wife must be ashamed. Insoni ebuntu!
We recall the explanation from State House that it was necessary for the First Lady to travel with the listed huge delegation of workers who were going to inspect if the donated trucks “were in conformity with Zambian standards”. Are these the tailor-made fire trucks that the technocrats inspected and approved? Really, like Saviour Chishimba rightly put it, we are a nation of fools! The foolishness is well summarised in the pictures of the dinosaur fire trucks which gobbled millions of taxpayers money.
Like we indicated in our previous opinion, the logic that was applied on this trip cannot make sense even to a stupid person. The money that was spent on air tickets for this delegation was enough to buy one fire engine; the money that was spent on accommodation and food is enough to buy another new fire engine and the money that they shared as allowances among themselves is also enough to purchase a third fire engine. This expenditure made sense to those who defended the trip, but to us, it sounded as stupid as an entire family jumping on a Mazhandu Bus from Lusaka to go and collect K1, 000 rentals from a tenant in Livingstone.
When this trip was exposed, Zambians complained but no one at State House listened. We find this arrogance very disturbing. People who have access to public funds need to have a heart for the poor. It doesn’t make any logical sense for government to spend millions of kwacha on 25 people who want to go and receive a donation that is worth much less.
We have asked this question before: what is it exactly that the President’s wife wishes to advocate for under her charity? What is the motto and mission statement for the Esther Lungu Foundation? What are its goals and objectives?
We are asking these questions because we don’t think that the First Lady’s Foundation has an interest in pursing justice for the marginalised; it has no interest in pushing for good healthcare for the vulnerable people; it has no business with educating the poor; and it has nothing to do with the physically challenged in society.
If at all the First Lady is concerned about the plight of any of the needy groups listed above, then surely her Foundation lacks common sense. How can they allow that wastage of money when women are giving birth on the floor in hospitals? How free was her conscience while in America, knowing that hundreds of Zambians will die because the money that would have been spent on granting them access to medical facilities was wasted on her trip to Los Angeles?
Esther Nyawa Lungu and her husband do not come from rich families. They have seen suffering before and some of their relatives are still wallowing in abject poverty, they are surviving on less than a dollar a day. Have they forgotten already? There is a saying in Chewa which translates to mean that a person must never forget where they are coming from because the moment you begin to enjoy wealth, just know that poverty is calling on you.
This wastage of public funds will be recorded in the history of the country as an example of how heartless the Lungu administration was at a time those who voted them into power were starving to death. One day, Mr Lungu and his wife will find the ladder they used to climb up is no longer there and they will suffer a terrible fall from grace!
What is more annoying about this development is that now that these trucks are here, looking like a donation to a museum, those who were on the First Lady’s delegation to America are feeling embarrassed to own them.
On Monday, we asked the First Lady’s principal private secretary to simply confirm if these were the same fire trucks our first lady went to receive in America and she declined to say a word. Instead, she referred the query to the Chief Government Spokesperson. Why should Dora Siliya be the one to take the public beating for this humiliating development?
Own the fire trucks, madam! Let the First Lady take a ride in them and go round, pass through Kanyama and tell the people about the good work that her foundation is doing so that she can receive direct responses from the residents there.