Minister of Health Sylvia T Masebo has warned that the New Dawn Government will not tolerate corruption in the procurement systems at her ministry.
Ms. Masebo has acknowledged that procurement is usually marred by corruption not only at the Ministry of Health but other public institutions.
The Chongwe Member of Parliament said the Government needs credible politicians and civil servants to fight corruption in the public sector.
Speaking to journalists in Kitwe during her tour of the Copperbelt on Friday, Ms. Masebo said there is a need to support President Hakainde Hichilema’s crusade against corruption.
“I think it is important for the public to understand that the issue of procurement in Zambia has been problematic. And not just problematic but it has been marred with corruption. I am not afraid to say that or hesitant to say that there has been corruption.”
“And the evidence is there if you are to go by the FIC reports of the past, if you are to go by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. The Auditor General’s report for all years just remained the same if anything the last ten years have been the worst. And who is at the core of these problems? It is the procurement officers together with the Permanent Secretaries and in some cases together with the Ministers,” Ms. Masebo said.
“So the only good news we have for now is that we have at the helm of this country none other than President Hakainde Hichilema who is not corrupt, has a vision, he understands Government procedures better than those who have been ministers before or they have been Members of Parliament before. For now the challenge is that as a President you cannot work alone. He needs effective and trustworthy ministers who are also following the same line. He also needs civil servants that are above board, including procurement officers,” she said.
Ms. Masebo cautioned that Zambians should stop praising criminals.
“The President needs a citizenry that is able to clap for those that work above board and are able to stand up and say we do not want corruption anymore. It is only in this country where criminals are glorified. Only in Zambia and those who stand straight are actually criticized. It is in this country Zambia and so the fight against corruption cannot be for the President alone even if he is not corrupt. The fight against corruption is for all of us,” she said.
Ms. Masebo pledged not to be corrupt as she serves as Health Minister.
“As a minister, I can only make a commitment as an individual that I will be like I have always been above board. I am not in this job to get rich. I am interested in making a little difference working with everybody, those inside Government and those outside Government. So as a Ministry we will do our best. It is not easy because remember you have changed the head of state, you have changed a minister, you have changed the PS, what about the rest? They are still the same so the same problems of the past are still with us. It will take time for those under us to begin to understand that this new group, this new President, is different from the past,” she said.
Ms. Masebo concluded:”We are trying our level best to ensure that going forward we should not end up being audited by the Auditor General because money was diverted into somebody’s pocket. That will not happen, what may happen is that in trying to serve you we will step on people’s toes. Those that have money, those that know how to bribe the systems of Government starting from Parliament, the judicial systems, the executive system, including the voters themselves.”