WYNTER Kabimba says it is nonsense for the PF government and its agents to tell off people questioning suspicious deals because taxpayers’ money belongs to Zambians.
Kabimba, the Rainbow Party leader who once served in the PF government as justice minister, said public funds being used to construct infrastructure and purchase government equipment did not belong to Edgar Lungu or any other individual in the government.
The former PF secretary general said Zambians were free to question government on anything because it was their money.
“We are being told that one fire tender costs a million dollar and we have 42 of them for 39 local authorities and we have 106 councils in the country, so you have only bought tenders for a third of that number of councils. And then, what is interesting is the 42 fire tenders were supposed to be handed in by the President. If the President was around, he should have been the one to hand over those tenders…not even a minister. That is why the Vice-President went there. So, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered and which cannot be answered by way of saying ‘oh no, we are the party in government’; ‘you are bitter’; ‘those are sour grapes’, that is nonsense. It is because that money does not belong to Edgar Lungu or any individual in government. That is money for the Zambian people,”
Kabimba said following public outrage following the supply of 42 fire tenders at a cost of $42 million by Grandview International, a company allegedly owned by those close to State House.
“There is a statement I made following the gutting of City market. The information we had was that there was already a supplier of fire tenders before that market was gutted. One theory, which is just a theory, has been that in fact, that act [City Market fire] was not even a subject of sabotage; it could have come from the people that were interested in a. the reconstruction of the market and b. the supply of fire tenders. Both those events have come prematurely. There is a contractor now…we were being told that it would take six weeks to build that market but we are now over that six weeks.”
He wondered why there was no construction activity going on at City Market despite promises made that works would be done within a short time.
“We haven’t seen even a brick which has been put at that market. We were told that the defence forces were going to build that market; we have not seen any defence personnel constructing that market. What we are being told now is that there is a contractor that will build that market within a period of one year. Related to that, up to today, we have not heard about those that were suspected to have been perpetrators of that same so-called sabotage being taken to court. The police to date have failed to tell the country who was involved in that fire. What we have been told instead is that, everybody that was picked up has been released because there is no evidence of them being connected to that fire,”
“I made a statement that if the police do not produce the suspects who would be taken to court, who would be convicted for having been involved in the fire then the PF caused that fire so that they can benefit both from the reconstruction of the market and the supply of fire tenders. Now, if you are going to float a tender for billions of dollars, like we heard regarding the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway; if you are going to float a tender for 42 fire tenders, surely transparency and good governance requires that you advertise those tenders publicly. The Zambian people must see the tender and must be told who has bid and finally who has been selected. That is what we see in international tenders. If you read the Economist Magazine and other magazines, you will find the United Nations, African Union and everybody, they advertise in those magazines and say ‘there is a tender and only contractors from member states should apply’.”
Kabimba said even if the PF government had borrowed money for the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriageway and the 42 fire tenders, the Zambians were the ones to pay back.
“It is important that the government tells the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) to satisfy us and publish that tender and tell us who submitted the bids and how they arrived at the US$1 million. We expect that answer from ZPPA and not from State House because the tender was not floated by State House. They must tell us what was so urgent that they had to single source. Single sourcing is allowed but you must give reasons as to the urgency of the matter. That’s what the law says. So, in the absence of proper and convincing explanations, by the government around these issues, we as citizens can only suspect that there is corruption involved and that conclusion is inescapable. So, the onus is on the government to show us that they are not involved in corruption. They must tell the ZPPA to publish the details of both tenders,” said Kabimba.