Friday, April 23, 2010

Release Auditor General’s report on road construction - Kabimba

Release Auditor General’s report on road construction - Kabimba
By George Chellah
Fri 23 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Patriotic Front secretary general Wynter Kabimba yesterday challenged President Rupiah Banda to release the Auditor General’s report on road construction in the country, which has exposed scandals from road construction contracts worth billions of kwacha awarded to quack road contractors with his full knowledge.

And Kabimba said President Banda is extremely ignorant on how councils or the local government system operates in Zambia. In an interview, Kabimba dismissed President Banda’s attacks on the performance of the PF-controlled councils on the Copperbelt.

He explained that in 2009, the government had floated a tender for road construction in Kitwe.

“But that money did not go directly to the councils and the roads in Kitwe to date have not been rehabilitated. If Rupiah is running a clean government as he projects himself to be, we challenge him to release the Auditor General’s report on road construction in this country, which report is in his office, which report exposes scandals from road construction contracts worth billions of kwacha awarded to quack road contractors with the full knowledge of Rupiah as President and his Cabinet,” Kabimba said.

“Let him release that report instead of him claiming that someone at The Post hates him. The money spent on these roads that do not meet any specifications of any road in the world is the Zambian people’s money. And if indeed Mr Banda is running a clean government free of corruption in the area of procurement procedures, free of any tainted hands on the part of some of his ministers and government officials, we demand that he releases that report as soon as possible. If not, it will be him who will be acting as a hypocrite to the people of Zambia.”

Kabimba, who is also former Lusaka town clerk, said President Banda’s understanding of the local government system is very poor.

“It is clear from Rupiah’s press conference in Kitwe on Tuesday that either he doesn’t understand or he is extremely ignorant of how the local government system in Zambia operates or he is just politicking in the same style that Chiluba did when he duped Zambians by selling them council property at K10,000 in order for them to give him support over the third term campaign, which support he never got anyway,” Kabimba said.

“This you can discern very clearly from his language that he was simply paraphrasing Chiluba’s third term language when he realised that Zambians had seen through him and where no longer interested in him to manipulate them.

For anybody who understands the local government system and how it operates, this is a specialised field and you cannot use common sense to try to say things that don’t make sense to the stakeholders.”

Kabimba dismissed President Banda’s claims that PF-controlled councils were stealing funds.

“Mr Banda alleged that colossal amounts of money had been disbursed to PF controlled councils without them rendering any service to the electorate and that instead this money went to personal emoluments of PF councillors and district council employees,” Kabimba said.

“What he doesn’t understand is that councillors do not get any form of emoluments in form of monthly salaries, salary advances, loans or any kind of allowances. Other than the meager sitting allowance of K230,000 per sitting with the maximum of two sittings per councillor in a month.

“This cannot in any way compare with the huge sums of money that Mr Banda’s government is spending on the NCC delegates. Including the ridiculous microphones for the NCC to the tune of K1.8 billion.”

On salaries for council employees, Kabimba said President Banda should understand that council employees are entitled to a salary per month for the labour that they sell to councils.

“And these salaries and wages are contained in the annual budgets which are submitted to his Minister of Local Government and Housing who approves those budgets before the councils can spend that money. Council workers receive meager salaries and wages that are below a living wage under the economy of this country,” Kabimba said.

“These salaries and wages are incomparable to the money Mr Banda spends on trips every month out of this country under the pretext of bringing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It is therefore, grossly inhuman on his part to condemn these workers that are working under very difficult conditions in order to receive a pittance of a wage at the end of the month.”
Kabimba said President Banda should also understand that the financial ills councils faced today were brought by his mentor, Chiluba.

“Chiluba wanted to be a life President for this country. Chiluba is on record of having taken away the revenue base of councils in form of rentals when he sold some council properties at K10, 000 in the same manner that he used to sell tickets as a bus conductor for the Central African Road Service (CARS). I expect Rupiah to understand this historical perspective to the problems which the councils face today,” Kabimba said. “The records are very clear that in some of the PF councils such as Chingola when PF took over in 2006, it had salary arrears payable to the workers for a period of one year.

Through the guidance of these PF-controlled councils by the party’s experts in local government and the financial discipline, which they have exercised to show the sense of duty to the residents, Chingola council today is able to pay salaries and wages on time. Unlike the constant workers strikes that we used to see under Chiluba’s regime, you don’t hear of any council strikes today especially in PF controlled councils.“
Kabimba reminded President Banda of the financial irregularities in Isoka.

“I hope Rupiah knows that the CDF monies for Isoka district council which is MMD controlled has all been stolen or misappropriated and Isoka is just one of the many MMD-controlled councils.

Despite what has happened in Isoka, he hasn’t sent any audits to that council to establish who has stolen that money. He has also not flown to Isoka to go and hold a press conference to tell the people that your money has been stolen,” Kabimba said.

“Instead he decides to go to the Copperbelt under Chiluba’s instructions to project a situation of irresponsibility on the part of those councils instead of his own MMD-controlled councils. He says that PF is against the housing empowerment policy by the MMD government, which is not true. What we are opposed to is a politically motivated empowerment policy that is intended to please a few people in MMD against the majority of our people.

“That type of Chiluba philosophy of empowerment we are totally opposed to. PF realises and stands for the provision of shelter to our people as a human right, as a human right under the UN habitat declaration but our people should not be discriminated against in order for Mr Banda to appear to be more humane than those of us who understand local government better than him.”

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