Kasebamashila Kaseba, a media consultant and news analyst, has criticized the actions of Nicholas Phiri, the First Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office, and Thabo Kawana, the Director of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services. In a statement, Mr Kaseba described their recent inspection and purchase of luxury vehicles at a showroom as “a display of hypocrisy and lack of moral conscience.”
The criticism comes amid reports that President Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), has rejected the use of the Presidential Jet due to its perceived extravagance and has also declined to reside in the Nkwazi House, a government residence that is over 50 years old. Instead, Hichilema has chosen to reside in his own private residence, which some have referred to as the “Community House,” which is reportedly about seven years old.
Mr Kaseba noted that the actions of Phiri and Kawana seem to be in contrast to the values and beliefs espoused by President Hichilema and the UPND. President Hichilema has previously stated that he would not draw a salary as President and would instead donate the funds to the public, and has also criticized the use of luxurious and fuel-inefficient vehicles by the previous government.
While Mr Phiri and Mr Kawana have defended their actions, stating that their salaries and conditions of service allow them to afford such luxuries, Mr Kaseba called on President Hichilema to hold his subordinates accountable for their actions. Mr Kaseba also raised questions about the cancellation of the Civil Service debt swap arrangement by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, which was announced by Kawana.
It remains to be seen how the UPND and President Hichilema will respond to these criticisms and whether any action will be taken in regards to the actions of Mr Phiri and Mr Kawana.