Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scott defends donation of fuel to Malawi

Scott defends donation of fuel to Malawi
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 23 June 2012, 13:23 CAT

VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Guy Scott says the consequences of having a failed state within the country's immediate regional borders could be dire for Zambia. And Vice-President Scott says the statement by President Michael Sata during his address to the Rio summit on sustainable development that Zambia was tired of begging is about encouraging Zambians to take greater responsibility for their fate.

During the Vice-President's question time in Parliament yesterday morning, Vice-President Scott (right) said Zambia's hindsight actions aimed at curtailing any of its neighbours from becoming a failed state were tactical.

Vice-President Scott was responding to a question from Mafinga MMD member of parliament Catherine Namugala regarding the government's recent decision to donate fuel to neighbouring Malawi during the mourning period of that country's late president Dr Bingu wa Mutharika.

"While the House was on recess, the government of the Republic of Zambia donated 5 million litres of fuel with a value of seven million US dollars to Malawi but immediately after that we experienced a serious fuel shortage," Namugala asked. "Explain to us the rationale behind the decision of giving seven million dollars away?"

Vice-President Scott kicked off his response with an adage which says, 'no man is an island.'

"Zambia is certainly not an island," Vice-President Scott said.

"The so-called border between Zambia and Malawi is a line; an imaginary lineā€¦the risk of having a failed state on one of our borders is a risk that anybody can surely understand."

Vice-President Scott said even the regional powerhouse South Africa assisted Malawi because it was concerned about the situation there.

"I believe it was an appropriate and tactical use of resources," said Vice-President Scott in reference to the donation of fuel to Malawi.

Responding to Nalikwanda MMD member of parliament Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa's question on what policy direction the government had devised to match with President Sata's statement that Zambia does not need money but technology from the donor community, Vice-President Scott said he has not had detailed discussions with President Sata over the statement.

But he said as he understood the President's assertion, it was meant to make the country move away from its age-old dependency on donor support, which sometimes was not given deservingly but on mere humanitarian grounds.

"He is merely affirming that we should take more responsibility for our own fate," Vice-President Scott said.

Vice-President Scott also said, in response to Monze Central UPND parliamentarian Jack Mwiimbu's allegations that the government was engaging in what it had discouraged the MMD from doing through the distribution of relief food in areas where there were by-elections, that this was not something being done in response to political instructions.

Vice-President Scott said the government was walking a tight rope on the issue of ensuring that it addressed the problem of street vending and making sure that citizens also find some means of survival.

"Until that time we have to strike some form of compromise whereby people can make a living," said Vice-President Scott in response to Lunte MMD member of parliament Felix Mutati's question. "It is a difficult tight rope to walk."

On Chadiza MMD member of parliament Allan Mbewe's question on what he
thought about PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba's classification of a Vice-President as a 'chola boy', Vice-President Scott said the whole issued depended on what someone made of it.

"You can judge me at the end of my term," he said.

Vice-President Scott said the government had not initially realised the levels of corruption and dishonesty in the Fertiliser Input Support Programme and that the quantity of fertiliser that would be allocated to beneficiary farmers would have to wait until things have been straightened up.

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