President Hakainde Hichilema has officially handed over the controversially procured 156 vehicles to be used in the monitoring of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects in all constituencies across Zambia.
The planned procurement of these vehicles by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development raised dust among some stakeholders last year.
In September 2022, media reports circulated alleging that Minister of Local Government Gary Nkombo was involved in corruption relating to the purchase of 156 Toyota Landcruisers Hardbody motor vehicles for Constituencies using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
PF official and former Ambassador to Ethiopia Emmanuel Mwamba alleged that Mr. Nkombo would spend $8.3million (K136million) to purchase 156 Landcruisers for each constituency using Constituency Development Fund(CDF).
Ambassador Mwamba at the time said the 156 Landcruisers were not budgeted for or planned for in the 2021/2022 Budget adding that the procurement was a wasteful expenditure.
In reaction, the Ministry of Local Government issued a statement saying the purchase of 156 vehicles amounting to US$8, 313, 084.00 million is in accordance with the Guidelines of the CDF.
Ministry of Local Government Permanent Secretary Maambo Haamaundu said the CDF Guidelines Part 2 section 2.2.3 on motor purchase provides for the procurement of vehicles aimed at facilitating the monitoring of CDF utilization.
Fast forward to 24th May, 2023, President Hichilema led scores of stakeholders from nearly all parts of the country during a ceremony to handover the vehicles held in the Lusaka Showgrounds.
In his remarks, the Head of State said the New Dawn Government has taken deliberate steps to achieve equitable development in all the 10 provinces in Zambia
President Hichilema urged the constituencies to use the vehicles for their intended purpose of monitoring and evaluating local projects.
“We are delighted to officially hand over 156 vehicles under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to facilitate service delivery to our people in all constituencies across Zambia.In attendance were stakeholders from a cross section of society. Our government has taken deliberate steps towards economic and social transformation to achieve equitable development in all the 10 provinces in Zambia, regardless of political affiliation. This is why we increased CDF from K1.6m to K28.3m per year, that is simultaneously disbursed to every constituency every year without fail,” he said.
“We are encouraged to see that now, through CDF, students have desks and this number is increasing daily. In addition, vulnerable pupils are attending school, the youth are accessing life skills and co-operatives have been empowered to enhance people’s livelihoods. Our guiding principle is people-centred development that ensures access to basic needs for all Zambians in all the corners of our country, so we urged the constituencies to use these vehicles for their intended purpose, to monitor and evaluate local projects because these benefit the whole community, whom we promised to serve,” President Hichilema said.
Meanwhile, 24 hours earlier, Patriotic Front (PF) Vice President Given Lubinda had issued a media statement condemning the Government for inviting scores of people from all parts the country to Lusaka for the vehicles handover ceremony.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development issued a notice, inviting Councils, Mayors, Council Chairpersons, Members of Parliament, Principal Officers and other government officials to the event.
“We wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the action by Government on the following score; It is reckless and irresponsible for President Hakainde and his government to spend such colossal sums of money just to handover a motor vehicle to a Council.The country is in dire economic stress with the lack of liquidity, rising youth unemployment, critical shortages of medicines and medical supplies in our healthcare facilities, rising inflation as well as a spiralling cost of living among numerous other economic challenges, yet we have a Government that finds it prudent to use the country’s meagre resources on an unnecessary expenditure such as a handover ceremony of motor vehicles.The money that Government will squander on this ceremony could have been channeled to needy areas such as the procurement of medicines and medical supplies in our healthcare facilities which have been relegated to death centres,” Mr. Lubinda wrote.