Chief Government Spokesperson Chushi Kasanda has said that the pace of prosecutions of corruption cases including the outcomes thereof, is not the responsibility of the executive.
Reacting to the Pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishops expressing concerns over the high poverty and inequality levels, moral decay, corruption, regional and tribal sentiments and unemployment among many other issues, Ms Kasanda said that government believes that tremendous progress has been made in fighting corruption and the mere fact that all suspected wrongdoing in the past and present is being pursued aggressively, and some of the public resources and assets recovered, shows that the fight against corruption is on course.
Ms. Kasanda, who is also the Information and Media Minister, also said that issues such as unemployment, poverty, free education and the Constituency Development Funds (CDF), are being prioritised by the government to better the lives of the people, citing reduced inflation and restructured the debt which the previous government left.
Below is the full statement
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON, HON. CHUSHI KASANDA, MP, ON ISSUES RAISED BY THE ZAMBIA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN THEIR STATEMENT
Government has taken note of the issues raised by the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops in their statement on the ‘State of the Nation,’ dated 18th November, 2022.
The statement is in line with Government’s open-door policy where citizens and stakeholders are at liberty to raise issues that require Government’s attention. The issues raised in the statement such as unemployment, poverty, free education, health, Constituency Development Fund (CDF), agriculture, the rule of law and the fight against corruption, are some of the priority areas that preoccupy this Government from the time it came into office. In this regard, Government has, and continues, to address these and many other issues for the betterment of the Zambian people.
Key to this, is the revival of the economy which Government has prioritised in uplifting people’s lives. Since coming into office over a year ago, inflation has climbed down from double to single digit, with the kwacha now ranked as the best performing currency in the world. The huge debt left by the previous Government is being restructured and dismantled and resources released from the same are being redirected to other needy areas such as education and health among others.
Further, investor confidence has been restored in the country’s economy arising from Government’s sustained efforts to reposition the country as a prime investment destination. Improving the welfare of Zambians, in particular the aged and other disadvantaged in society, Government’s allocation to social protection has increased from K6.3 billion in 2022, to K8.1 billion in 2023. The number of beneficiaries is being increased from the current 880, 539 in 2021, to 1, 324, 000 in 2023. In its efforts to empower people to take charge of their developmental needs at the local level, Government has decentralised the governance system from Lusaka to the districts accompanied by resources of up to K28.3 million per constituency, which has never happened since independence nearly six decades ago. As part of actualising this measure, Government is revising the guidelines and the Constituency Development Fund Act.
On unity, Government has been emphatic on promoting the one Zambia, One Nation Motto. This can be seen in the appointments of citizens to various positions of responsibility, including the recent recruitment of civil servants which was based on merit and not any political, ethnic or tribal considerations. Government is happy that Zambians have responded positively in embracing one another as brothers and sisters regardless of ethnic, tribal or regional background.
In the statement, the Catholic Bishops also raise concern on the fight against corruption which they feel is not yielding desired results. While Government respects this view, it believes that tremendous progress has been made. The mere fact that all suspected wrongdoing in the past and present is being pursued aggressively, and some of the public resources and assets recovered, shows that the fight against corruption is on course. It ought to be noted, however, that the pace of prosecutions of corruption cases including the outcomes thereof, is not the responsibility of the executive. Further, all suspects have a right to legal recourse as provided for in our laws, some of which are very lengthy.
Government is aware that the free education policy still requires capitalisation in terms of more classroom space, desks, teachers and other facilities arising from the high number of children that have come back to enroll in schools countrywide. However, the decision to introduce free education could not wait even for a day even in the absence of the said facilities. Doing so would spell doom on the future of children whose parents and guardians could not afford the school fees. These and other measures are unlocking more opportunities for Zambians to live better and prosperous lives. Government is, nonetheless, aware of the enormity of the challenges at hand, as pointed out in the statement, and is under no illusion that the challenges will be overcome overnight.
Zambians can, however, take comfort in the fact that Government continues to address the many challenges that confront this nation. Government, therefore, values the role and voice of the church and other stakeholders in the governance and development of the country. And as President Hakainde Hichilema has always said, the Government and the Church are not in competition but in cooperation in the development of the country.
Hon. Chushi Kasanda, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
19th November, 2022.