WHATEVER else someone might want to say, there is one thing that cannot be denied about the PF government. It is scandal ridden and, unfortunately, rotten to the core. The corruption that has characterised the way that this government has been run is nothing short of catastrophic. It is this type of corruption that destroys nations.
On Friday, we carried a story about tricycle ambulances which would be funny and laughable if it was not so tragic. The health of a nation is one of the most important, if not the most important duty of the government. As Covid-19 has shown us, we all need a properly functioning public health system, and this can only be provided by a responsible government. But going by the many revelations of scandals that this newspaper has carried about the Ministry of Health, one thing is clear: that ministry is one of the most abused.
It feels like people go to work in the morning and start thinking about where they can steal from the public. Who buys a tricycle at K130,000? What do they take us for? Everything about that tricycle ambulance transaction points to one thing; somebody wanted to steal, and they managed. The first justification that they gave for single sourcing Barakatel Investment Limited to supply the said tricycles was that the procurement was an emergency as they would be used to transport Covid patients. Really?
Senior officials in the Ministry of Health sat and decided that those tricycles were going to be used to fight the Covid pandemic and US$8.5 million was prudent to spend on buying them. How? When they were challenged that their justification was not good enough, they fraudulently went back and lied to ZPPA that Barakatel Investment Limited was the only company that had the capacity to supply “ex-stock”. They knew that this was not true and the only reason they were buying those tricycles was to steal money.
Having managed to buy those things, even they realised how foolish their scheme was that they couldn’t move them during the day, they had to move them at night and park them in Petauke. And now that they are parked, no one seems to know what to do with them. We are told by the Auditor General that the said tricycles are actually wrong specifications, meaning that they are not even fit for the terrain that they were bought for.
The Tricycle Ambulances or vitukutuku which were urgently needed to fight Covid, are now parked and being destroyed by the weather and being vandalised by human beings. The entire K180 million, which could have been used to actually save lives in this third wave of the pandemic which has killed many of our people, was simply stolen by a few greedy and shameless public officials with help from their private sector conspirators.
Everything about this transaction shows criminality, they pushed it using lies, they used illegal documents, they bought wrong specifications, and they did not even buy the quantity that was contained in the tender documents. The ZPPA authorisation was also questionable and we have every reason to believe that this go ahead was given with pressure from some invisible hand.
If we look at many of the deaths that have been registered during this third wave of the Covid pandemic, many people died because of oxygen shortage. At the pick of the pandemic, some people were dying before they could be attended to. It is therefore shocking that while the country was plunged into a pandemic, people were planning how to steal. We might have been able to draw some comfort from this crime if we could say they had stolen but at least left us some good quality product. But now we know that what they brought is ‘fonkong’ which did not comply with their fraudulent deal.
We should not be fooled, the scandals in this PF government are not only restricted to the Ministry of Health, what we are seeing in the Ministry of Health is a reflection of how this government has been run. This government has little to do with actually governing, people have spent time stealing, their full time job is not how to run the country, but how to steal from the country.
This is why foreigners who have understood this have had a very easy way of how to make money in our country. Give these politicians a little something, and the treasury is open to you. This Barakatel scandal is not any different from the Honeybee scandal. The similarities are striking, people seem to meet in some boardroom somewhere, agree a deal and go to get money from the government.
As we go to this election, what we all need to think about is the effect that corruption has had on our country. Corrupt leaders must be held to account. The Thursday election must be a referendum on corruption. We must tell our leaders what we think about corruption. If we vote for corrupt people, then we will be telling our leaders that it is okay for them to steal from us. If we punish corrupt leaders through the ballot, we will be telling whoever wins that if they also become corrupt, we will deal with them.