CHISHIMBA Kambwili says he is ready to die telling he truth.
Briefing the press at his Luanshya home yesterday, Kambwili, the National Democratic Congress president, expressed disappointment that a number of NGOs were lined up to condemn him on the cost of constructing Bangweulu Regional Hospital in Lupososhi Constituency.
The government through Ministry of Health has said Bangweulu Regional Hospital would cost K154 million and not US$154 million as claimed by Kambwili.
And PF member of the Central Committee Kebby Mbewe on Tuesday went to report Kambwili at Woodlands Police Station for allegedly misleading people over the Bangweulu hospital project.
But Kambwili said the statement by Ministry of Health, the NGOs, Sunday Chanda that he should have read the Presidential speech to know the cost of Bangweulu Hospital was an insult to Zambians’ intelligence.
He said the Presidential speech was not an authority in construction.
“The authority in construction is the BOQ (Bill of Quantities) and the tender documents. Where are the tender documents for Bangweulu Hospital? Where are the Tender documents for Kalindawalo Hospital? Where are the BOQs for Lusaka Hospital? Where are the BOQs for Chinsali Hospital?” he asked. “If government is telling the truth, I challenge them to publicise the tender documents for these hospitals. And by the way people of Zambia, they are saying ‘no, it is K154 million’. Now listen to this: they are saying Bangweulu Hospital is a very big hospital, referral hospital which is going to have 800 bed spaces and according to them it is going to cost US$11 million, if you translate the K154 million. Now the Lusaka Specialised Hospital, the bed space is only about 200, it cost government US$22 million. Kalindawalo hospital, the bed space is 200, it cost government US$28 million. Chinsali Hospital, the bed space is 200, it cost government US$28 million. How then can Bangweulu, which is 800 bed spaces cost US$11 million? Something is not adding up.”
Kambwili challenged the government to dispute if it was not true that Kalindawalo Hospital would cost US$28 million, Chinsali US$28 million and Lusaka Specialised US$22 million.
“These hospitals are much smaller than Bangweulu hospital. Now how can Bangweulu Hospital cost US$11 when these smaller hospitals are costing US$28 million and US$22 million? They are not telling the truth. I insist that Bangweulu Hospital, the cost is US$154 million,” Kambwili
He said the job of the opposition was to provide checks and balances.
He expressed disappointment that people were rushing to ask police to arrest him for “telling you the truth about the hospitals”.
Kambwili said he would die for the truth and that he was ready for those who want him arrested.
“I have got these figures from reliable sources, I don’t cook up figures. One thing you should not forget is that you PF government are very unpopular among the civil servants and it is the same civil servants who are giving us the information of how you are stealing,” he said.
Kambwili said the presidential speech was not part of tender documents but a mere pronouncement, which could carry wrong figures.
He also wondered what kind of tender it was, awarded in 2017 and implemented in 2019.
He wondered whether there was no limit in terms of validity of the Bangweulu hospital tender.
Kambwili said when statements were issued, there was an assumption that Zambians were dull.
“Some of us are equal to the task. You can fool people for some time but you cannot fool people forever. This tender is dented with corruption. First and foremost, the creation of Ministry of infrastructure Development was meant to mean all procurements of capital projects should be done by Ministry of Infrastructure. How do you allow the Ministry of Health to go and handle such a big tender? How? It is because people have interest,” he said. “And what we are saying in all of this is that stop your personal interest and commissions in these procurements. Concentrate on giving service to the people of Zambia. I cannot imagine a small hospital with 200 bed spaces costing US$28 million then an 800 bed spaces, regional hospital
costing US$11 million. Unless I am dreaming.”
Kambwili said if Bangweulu hospital indeed costs US$11 million, then there was corruption in the tender for the Lusaka, Chinsali and Kalindawalo hospitals at US$28 million each.
“…if you don’t stop stealing from the people Zambia, I will never stop talking and I am ready to die telling the truth,” he said.
And Kambwili wondered how the President could mislead Zambians on the prices of mealie-meal.
“This is unacceptable; where I was seated, after hearing the Minister of Agriculture saying, ‘Your Excellency’ we are going to sit down with the millers and we will come up with a lasting solution where we will ensure the price of mealie-meal will reduce. Naliumfwa neca mumala because you know politics is not about misleading the people, politics is about offering leadership in order to uplift the living standards of our people,” Kambwili said.
“But if the President and his ministers can be the first one to try and issue rhetorical statements… such a leadership must actually resign on moral grounds.”
Kambwili said the price of maize had been increased from K65 per 50 kg bag of maize to K150 entailing that the price of mealie-meal is supposed to double.
He said even the current prices of K130 per 25 kg break fast meal and K120 for roller meal were not the actual prices expected.
He predicted that by October the price of mealie-meal would be about K150.
“And this is not the problem of the millers. The problem is that the input prices have gone up, the cost of producing maize has gone up hence the price of maize has gone up and once the price of maize goes up, it means the price of mealie-meal will go up,” he said. “Now what does a government that cares do in such circumstance? It’s not to go and issue rhetoric in front of the donors, in front of cameras that you are going to sit down with the millers, that the millers are taking advantage. Honourable Katambo, insoni ebuntu, your Excellency, the President, insoni ebuntu.”
Kambwili said millers had costs to meet and production costs, given the exchange rate of K13 to a dollar, had gone up.
He said to apportion blame on the millers was being irresponsible.
Kambwili said reasonable government world over do subsidise the stable food.
He said the Zambian government was expected to announce subsidies to caution the poor people.
“It is unreasonable and unacceptable that in a country where maids are paid about K500 per month, in a country where a watchman, ba malonda, are getting K500 per month, the cost of the staple food which is mealie-meal can be costing K130,” Kambwili said.
He said an average family of six would consume about three 25 kg bags of mealie-meal per month.
Kambwili said leadership in such circumstances entails coming up with strategies to caution the suffering of the people and improve their living standards.
“Now you are telling us that we will sit with the millers; to do what? Come on, convene a cabinet meeting, find the money, subsidise the cost of mealie-meal for now,” Kambwili said. “Or find a way of reducing the cost of inputs because you have caused the problem of inputs. We have Nitrogen Chemicals here if recapitalized can produce cheaper fertilisers but you have opted to go and buy fertilisers from the dealers who are giving you commission, as a result the cost of production of maize has gone up.”
Kambwili said under Michael Sata, NCZ was recapitalized but now workers had gone six months without pay and were only given money to produce 15,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers.
“Nga namufilwa ukuteka leave those offices for some of us who have the heart for the people, some of us who have got plans on how to mitigate the suffering of the people, not ukulabepa abantu that we are going to meet the millers,” Kambwili said. “Ba Katambo, is that what you call being a
minister? The President is seated and even doing this (touches chin). Abantu balecula, can you be serious.”
Kambwili accused the government of causing the price of mealie-meal to go up and not the millers who have to make profit.
And Kambwili urged the government to stop the idea of levying Copperbelt University K1500 each for damages during their riot that prompted the government to close it.
He also condemned the banning of holiday tuitions for school-going children.
He also said the reduction in tuitions by the government had not received a corresponding release of grants to schools.
On health insurance, Kambwili wondered how the government was going to deduct one percent from people’s incomes for four months, who would start enjoying facilities after another four months.
He wondered what would happen if after four months the system fails since there were no structures established.
“Kanshi ubu ubuteko kulowka, umufuklo, what has come in?” he asked.
He said it appeared President Lungu and his leadership was not ready to rule.
Kambwili also when he was in Parliament, thee was an issue of vehicle replacement allowance of K32,000 introduced by the government.
He said the issue was fought and the government through secretary to Cabinet indicated it would not implement it.
He said the government has not stopped paying ministers the allowances, only that they were calling it anther name.
He said the ministers were now getting K80,000 per month.
“If these minister can be paid K80,000 per moth, kuti baumfwa ubucushi wa bantu?” he asked.