In January 2017, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia – Prof. Mumba, had decided to buy himself a K1.13 million Toyota Prado VX under the guise of institutional privilege, claiming that it was his entitlement.
My argument then, in response to what I thought was a clear institutional absurdity, was that Prof. Mumba was/is not an institution in himself. Therefore, we could not and still cannot hold to ransom, the ability of a public institution to function in the name of rewarding institutional office holders. At the time, UNZA was failing to pay staff emoluments, retirees’ benefits, as well as failing to meet some of the basic academic environment requirements.
And my sentiments to revelations that the PF government, in the midst of an austerity program, have gone out to spend several thousands of US dollars on luxury 4 x 4 vehicles for high ranking civil servants; among them judiciary officers, are exactly the same.
This is nothing short of an institutional absurdity.
Also rumoured to be in line to receive these vehicles are some top PF party officials, although this remains unverified.
What is evident, however, is that looking at the opportunity cost associated with such extravagant, avoidable public spending, it is hardly surprising to note that real growth and development under the PF has not only been sluggish, but also selective; principally because public resources have often, and still continue to be applied for the benefit of only a very small group of people at the expense of the majority.
With close to 8 million Zambians living on the margins of possible every single day, with no guaranteed access to decent housing, water and sanitation, difficulties accessing affordable energy, health, education and other social amenities, it is a travesty and an insult to our collective intelligence for this PF government under President Edgar Lungu, to continue savaging our very thin public resources only for the benefit of their friends in high places.
As we continue having this discussion, each one of these vehicles is worth the entire CDF allocation to each Constituency, at over K1.4 million; money which most of our Constituencies have yet to receive from previous budget periods.
The PF must come clean on this issue and demonstrate the required and expected sobriety, and explain why they have continued down the path of reckless public spending while critical social services continue to suffer.
Is it not possible, to require public officials, if they so desire to be driving expensive vehicles, to get market loans from commercial banks the same way all other citizens do; and pay for these loans using their emoluments. We cannot expect the public, who are already out of their depths thanks to endless taxes under the PF, to continue SUBSIDIZING the expensive lifestyles of a few public officials.
We have to make it stop.
We have to make it stop now.
However, the process of making it stop means the PF must be shown the exit door.
What a bunch of irresponsible, conniving individuals.
By Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member and Aspiring Candidate for Kabushi.