HARRY Kalaba has observed that junior officers in the PF government are now “implementing” the “uubomba mwibala, alya mwibala” remark by president Edgar Lungu. And Kalaba says revelations of corruption and theft in the government are not over, saying “much more will come out”.
Following an abuse of US$4 million donor funds meant for social cash transfer, President Lungu fired community development minister Emerine Kabanshi over a week ago. Commenting on the misappropriation of the funds from the Department for International Development (DfID), Kalaba, a Bahati PF member of parliament, asserted that corruption could not be fought selectively.
“If we are fighting this scourge, it cannot be fought in a selective manner. [But] it must be done in such a manner that all those that have been found in the firing lane should be dealt with. For me, the fight [against corruption] has been cosmetic because just getting rid of the Minister [of Community Development] is very simplistic! Is it a confirmation that is it the minister who was dealing with all the money alone? No! Is it McPherspon Chanda the one who has been sacrificed as having misappropriated resource? I don’t think so! We need to go to the bottom of this matter,” Kalaba said when he featured on Millennium radio’s People’s Debate programme on Friday.
He regretted that accountability levels, especially in government, were dwindling.
“People now don’t care whether money is spent appropriately or not because they have seen politicians betraying the very rules they should follow. They have seen that financial regulations, after all, don’t even matter; people can do whatever they want to do and they can get away with it. We have seen this now becoming a trend. The propensity by leaders, politicians to break the rules of the game is quite high…So, when you find other junior officers following suit…you are the ones who told them that you can do as you want, except you don’t have to eat everything. You told them that! So, when they start doing that, don’t get surprised because you told them [that] uubomba mwibala alya mwibala and they start implementing what you have been advocating for and you begin crying wolf! We need to be serious as leaders,” Kalaba said, recalling President Lungu’s proverbial remarks to ruling party members at a fundraising dinner for the construction of a PF convention centre in Kitwe on February 10 that “uubomba mwibala, alya mwibala, tabatila kulya nembuto kumo (meaning loosely, you are free to ‘derive’ benefits from government resources but do not finish everything).”
He said Zambia was built on a very firm foundation of peace and tranquility.
“Accountability has been the hallmark of this country. But now you find that those given the authority to preside over the affairs of our country have taken it upon themselves to betray the people that they should never have betrayed. If leaders are doing it, it begins following [and] that is how the rule of law is undermined. That is why today you find that even PF cadres are in the forefront doing all kind of things – they can issue any statement because things have just collapsed. The police are even afraid of PF cadres [and] that is why I keep on saying that we need order in this country so that people can stick to their lanes,” Kalaba said.
And Kalaba pointed out that the social cash transfer was “a very serious issue” and that abuse of funds meant for social safety net was “a very sad development for Zambia.”
“A dark cloud has descended over this country as a result of the misapplication of those resources. I don’t even know how we are going to correct our image because to have countries like Sweden that have always given us balance of payment support withdraw their support is very sad. To have countries like the UK withdraw their support, to have countries like Finland; those are countries that have been supporting, hugely, our social sectors. Yes, the UK has not stopped supporting government totally or Zambia totally. [But] they have stopped giving government money [and] they are now giving money to the NGOs. That is a huge indictment on the PF government, it is a huge negation by government and it is something that is very sad,” Kalaba, a former foreign affairs minister, said.
Asked if he felt vindicated about corruption in the PF government, Kalaba answered: “Yes.”
“When I resigned on 2nd January this year, you saw how there was hullaballoo – hell broke loose! ‘Kalaba has resigned because of A,B,C,D; he should get out of our party because he has said there is corruption’. I want to see those who were standing on the anthill saying ‘Kalaba, there is no corruption. Can you point at who is corrupt’. You don’t have to point at anybody and I told people that time is a great equaliser of things and time has vindicated me. By the way, this is not the end; much more will come out. As I told you, I’m bound by the issues of collective responsibility. I mean, I swore that I’m going to keep the oath of allegiance as well as the oath of secrecy. So, there are issues that I can’t talk about,” said Kalaba.