Mr Hakainde Hichilema appears agitated by our insistence that his UPND government is a looting machine and is rotten with corruption to the core.
Yesterday, Minister of Information and Media and Chief Government Spokesperson, Ms Chushi Kasanda accused us of making false narratives and unsubstantiated claims about Mr Hichilema’s fight against corruption, which we still insist is driven by hypocrisy and vengeance.
Ms Kasanda further said our observations were without merit and lacked any substantive evidence claiming that this government’s commitment to fighting corruption was not mere rhetoric.
We have taken note of Mr Hichilema’s response through Ms Kasanda and we would want to make it clear to him that we are neither concocting any intrigues nor maliciously attacking anyone but merely stating facts as they are. It requires little intelligence – if a little is all one has – to figure out what is going on. That is why we are fully aware of what is happening in this government and can confidently state that under Mr.Hichilema’s leadership, corruption in Zambia has not gone away, it has simply migrated to new players.
In fact, we can categorically state that this is a government full of shifty and money- grabbing individuals whose primary aim is plundering or immoral accumulation of wealth. These are shameless liars who are busy misleading our people that they are restructuring the economy yet all they are doing is to reconfigure business and our politics to suit their crude thieving methods.
The truth is there is no genuine fight against corruption under Mr Hichilema and all that is happening is just deception. But what they don’t know is that to fight corruption or indeed any other vices in government, it requires a great sense of values, integrity and a genuine desire and patriotism for a more humane, fair, just and stable nation. And Mr Hichilema’s government does not represent any of this.
For Mr Hichilema, the purported fight against corruption is but another drop of incense on the altar of political expedience. It seems to be a fight that is more structured to puncture holes in the political fortunes of those he doesn’t like. It is an idea driven by blatant hypocrisy and excessive vengeance. Zambians must know that if this crusade was genuine, it would have been pursued with a strict adherence to the rule of law and the fundamental rights of those accused and not this poorly choreographed performance we are witnessing.
Further, a genuine crusade against corruption has nothing to do with fixing those you want to politically obliterate. It ought to be anchored on a solid abhorrence for the vice and its attendant consequences. What we see is a smoke screen! And since we have been challenged to base our criticism on facts we shall argue our case with specifics.
- On corruption in Zambia, the recent US Report stated as follows:
- There were numerous reports of government corruption.
- The law also provides for declaration of assets by members of parliament and ministers when entering and leaving public office, but there is no subsidiary legislation providing for sanctions for breach or for failure to declare assets. There is no verification system, and asset data were not available to the public.
- Other senior public officials, including permanent secretaries, heads of state-owned enterprises, and officials involved in public procurement are not required to declare. Although some institutions have institutionalised mechanisms for asset declaration, no one has ever been sanctioned for failure to declare, TIZ reported.
- Although the government collaborated with the international community and civil society organisations to improve capacity to investigate and prevent corruption, anticorruption NGOs observed the enforcement rate was low among senior government officials and civil service, and there was concern that the corruption fight was focused primarily on corrupt practices of the previous administration.
- There were also reports of corruption in the sitting administration. For example, there were allegations of corruption in fertilizer procurement by the Ministry of Agriculture, the procurement of 75 motor bikes by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services at a total cost of 9,885,010 New Kwacha ($588,000), and the issuance of mining licenses by the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development involving the sitting administration, TIZ reported.
- In July President Hichilema fired the Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary George Magwende, ostensibly over a corrupt tender involving the construction of seven prefabricated COVID-19 isolation hospitals in Lusaka worth nearly $100 million, which was signed by the previous administration in 2020 but never executed. According to media, officials of the Attorney General’s Office and the Treasury had signed off on the legality and financial feasibility of the tender.
- The dismissal of Luapula Province minister Derricky Chilundika and his subsequent arrest is but an insignificant scapegoat because there are other key leaders of this government – big dealers- involved in the illicit mineral dealings, especially gold. They are doing it with impunity. Why is Mr Hichilema silent on illegal gold dealings in the country?
- We have real corruption in fertilizer procurement. A company styled as Alpha Commodities is increasingly stamping its authority as the ‘alpha and omega’ of fertilizer procurement in this country. Not so long ago, questions were raised about how this company bullied its way to a contract to supply fertilizer at highly inflated prices – single sourced and authorised by Mr Hichilema himself. This is the company under the control and ownership of the husband to Ms Kasanda, the Minister of Information and Media, who is also the Mr Hichilema’s close associate. Again nothing will happen.
- An audit report that discloses the grand corruption that attended the fertilizer procurement in the recent past has been frustrated and swept under the carpet. Is this how you fight corruption?
- Despite public demands from the chairman of the Anti Corruption Commission, Mr Hichilema has refused to publicly make declaration of his assets and liabilities. Why? What is he hiding? Is this the attitude of people who are determined to uphold the highest ethical standards as Ms Kasanda claims? Mr Hichilema’s snub to declare his assets as provided by the law and demanded by decency and transparency, justifies the concerns raised in the report by their friends in the US Department of State – on the mischief surrounding asset declaration and how some leaders in this government, including Mr Hichilema, who is the principal culprit are getting away with trying to evade the corruption radar.
- There is serious uncertainty and turbulence in the petroleum sector owing to what is currently obtaining at the Tazama – Ndola Fuel Terminal. Can this government tell the nation how the deal to clean the TAZAMA Pipeline was awarded to Agro Fuel Limited? Also, can this government tell the nation how Agro Fuel Limited was extended another deal to manage the TAZAMA – Ndola Fuel Terminal? Can this government tell the nation who owns Agro Fuel Limited and whom they are closely associated with in this government, if any?
There are loads and loads of suspicious and dirty deals currently taking place in Mr Hichilema’s government but for now, we shall stick to the issues raised above and wait for the government’s response before taking the corruption discourse to the next level. Like we said, we are not afraid to call out this government’s dirty and corrupt schemes because we speak from our vast experience in investigating, detecting and exposing corruption. And it’s this same experience that has sharpened our ability to articulate these issues and to collect and collate as well as corroborate evidence of complex plunder matrixes.
Again, we repeat our message to the Zambian people that they should not be under any illusion that they have a decent leadership in place. The people they elected as leaders are nothing but vengeful hypocrites who operate under a system of rule that is anchored in the ‘It’s Our Turn to Eat’ principle. Accountability, transparency and human rights does not matter to Mr Hichilema and his government. But as the Yoruba proverb goes “everyday is for the thief, one day is for the owner”. Zambians are not fools, they can see through it all and they are waiting to see where this corrupt corruption fight of Mr Hichilema is heading.
President of the Socialist Party