Friday, May 29, 2009

Rupiah's corruption fight is not genuine

Rupiah's corruption fight is not genuine
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, May 29, 2009 4:53:49 PM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) spokesperson Given Lubinda has observed that President Rupiah Banda's corruption fight is not genuine. And PF president Michael Sata said President Banda's move against the civil servants was right but that he should extend the same zeal to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing over the purchase of hearses which they said cost US$29,000 instead of US$9,000.

Commenting on President Banda's directive that all civil servants and their agents who were currently under investigations in the K10 billion scam should not enter the Ministry of Health (MoH) premises until further notice, Lubinda said the President was practicing double standards over corruption.

He said President Banda had one set of rules for his kith and kin and loyalists.

Lubinda said it was surprising that President Banda had moved swiftly on the civil servants when he failed to do anything on former communications and transport minister Dora Siliya, who is still staying in a government house and driving a GRZ vehicle.

He said much as President Banda's move on the civil servants was right, the decision was embedded in desperation so that he could win back the confidence of some donors who had pulled out from supporting the Ministry of Health on account of corruption.

"In this case Mr Rupiah Banda is hoping to redeem his stand against corruption by taking advantage of the issues at Ministry of Health. So this is a falling branch to which he wants to hold on to and claim that he is fighting corruption," Lubinda said on Wednesday.

He said President Banda was hell bent on protecting his kith and kin and loyalists at all costs.

"The civil servants fall directly under the jurisdiction of the Secretary to the Cabinet. The ones who fall directly under him are his ministers. He failed to prevail over Siliya when she was facing investigations, and yet he is very quick to call for the arrest of civil servants who are implicated in the corruption scam. He's refusing them to enter Ministry of Health premises that they will interfere with evidence but he failed to remove Siliya from office when there was a call that she would interfere with the evidence," Lubinda said.

"That is playing double standards. On Siliya he said he could not do anything because the court process was still ongoing. On the civil servants he has turned himself into the arresting officer, the jury and the judge. You will also remember that during the time Dora was facing the tribunal, Rupiah Banda caused the transfer of Dr Eustern Mambwe from Ministry of Communications to North Western Province because he had a lot to say about Siliya."

He charged that President Banda was selective in most of his dealings and that he wanted to use the suspected corrupt civil servants to show that he was serious with the fight against corruption.

"He has one set of principles for those who are close to him and another set for those who are not close to him," Lubinda said.

He said President Banda defended and had continued to support Siliya's breach of the Constitution. Lubinda said President Banda was elected to defend the Constitution but failed to take any action against Siliya.

"He should have dismissed her. Dismissal is a dent on the person's career than resignation. But in his selective manner he asked for her to resign rather than face the sack," he said.

He said even Siliya's continued stay in a government house and driving a GRZ vehicle pointed to President Banda's double standards. Lubinda said it was important to reduce discretionary powers so that everyone irrespective of their relationship with the President could be treated equally.

"[Works and supply minister Mike] Mulongoti and permanent secretary Bizwayo Nkunika should explain who to keep in the house for more than 15 days or three months," said Lubinda.

Mulongoti has authorized Siliya to continue staying in a government house beyond the stipulated 15 days after leaving office. And Sata said President Banda's move on the civil servants was right but that he should extend the zeal to the local government ministry over the purchase of hearses.

"They told us that the hearses were US$29,000 but we have established that they are only US$9,000, we want to know who has pocketed the US$20,000," said Sata.

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