IT is very dangerous for a country to be led by a leadership that cannot see beyond today and tomorrow, says former local government minister Ackson Sejani. Reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s sentiments last week that government leaders were not involved in influencing the awarding of contracts, Sejani described the Head of State’s comments as “feeble and pathetic”.
Last Wednesday President Lungu said some sections of society had from time-to-time accused government leaders of influencing the process of awarding contracts. He added that Zambia was losing a lot of money due to poor contract administration, saying this was unacceptable.
“Have you ever seen the President of the Republic of Zambia and his ministers sitting on the tender awarding committee? Please save the face of your leaders and come out in the open and explain the procurement process and the stakeholders involved in the awarding of contracts. …I don’t think it involves the Republican President and ministers in the execution of the procurement process…,” the President said.
However, Sejani said President Lungu and his government had led Zambia into a ditch.
“Mr Lungu’s attempt to exonerate his ministers of influencing award of contracts is feeble. How can he say that a minister does not sit on the board to influence things in awarding contracts? Such a feeble and pathetic explanation cannot be coming from a Head of State,” Sejani said.
“Do you really have to sit on the board to influence proceedings in matters of contracts? Things are catching up with Mr Lungu at a very fast rate. By the way, what was the purpose of taking the RDA [Road Development Agency] to State House? How long did RDA run without a Board while at State House? How many contracts were signed at State House during this period when RDA ran without a board? Who was the boss during that period? What does this whole episode involving RDA and State House tell us about contract administration in Zambia?”
Sejani wondered who had “suddenly shaken PF off their deep slumber”, resulting in the ruling party making “two big confessions” within the space of two days.
“Belated as they are these admissions are interesting because they are, at long last, coming from a government that lives in denial. First it was the Minister of Finance (Margaret Mwanakatwe] finally admitting that the economy is sick. A rare admission from PF, although some less well informed government spokesperson is trying to put some unhelpful spin on what her colleague said. The second admission is from Mr Lungu himself! Mr Lungu now accepts that there is something wrong with the way contracts are awarded in this country. He now says the country is losing a lot of money due to poor contract administration. REALLY!” said Sejani.
“Is this Mr Lungu saying so or it is the bitter opposition? Where was he and what was his response when these matters were raised by the opposition way back? … Before Mr Lungu lectures contract administration to us, he must answer these questions.”