EDIFY Hamukale says those that served under the previous administration who were regarded as sleepy, idle and dull are now living a totally free life while “holy angels are in trouble”.
In an interview, Dr Hamukale who served as Southern Province minister in the Edgar Lungu government said he is so free that he does not expect anyone to follow him because he served with integrity.
“We need to hand over a culture of honesty, integrity and selflessness to the younger generation. That’s more important. These material things will never take you anywhere and I’m vindicated to say those that were calling us sleepy and even calling [Dr Kenneth] Kaunda’s children as having not utilised the opportunity to get rich when their father was president, now today the same holy angels of that time are in trouble and those of us who were idle, dull and whatever are now leaving a totally free life. And I can even go back to government because I have nothing to fear,” he said.
Dr Hamukale said occupying public office was a privilege to serve and not to enrich oneself.
He stressed that public service is an opportunity to take the country to another level.
“I’m not wanting. I have everything I need. I think to amass wealth using wrong means, dubious methods will just land you in trouble. Can you imagine you are seated at home then boom Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) comes and your children are watching that their father is being taken! It’s a shame,” Dr Hamukale. “Even the bit of respect your wife and children had for you, they will be like ‘we thought we lived a luxurious life. We didn’t know that our dad was stealing’.”
He said those given the privilege to serve people should be very good examples to the young generation.
“How it if feels to have run an office with an honest tone. Four years audit query free and you come out and then see your friends being followed because they thought they were clever! You know that I was fighting corruption when I was minister. And I’m on record for being one of those who fought corruption. When I was talking about corruption in recruitment, procurement, promotions, all those things I fought outright. I think I’m vindicated in a way. I think everyone having occupied public office should walk with their head up without worrying about who is coming because those positions are meant to serve the people and not enrich oneself,” he said.
“Here I’m saying it is possible even amidst the dirtiest regime. If you like to come out clean and say I ran my public office position with honesty and came out clean. Records are there to show in 2020 as Southern Province we received an award from ZPPA (Zambia Public Procurement Agency) for our audit free status for three years in a roll. My PS (permanent secretary) Mwangala Liomba received that award at Avani Hotel in Livingstone. So there is even documented evidence that we ran Southern Province and managed it well without interfering with the work of civil servants. That’s not a mean achievement.”
Dr Hamukale said those privileged to serve must respect public office and manage state resources to the best of their ability to benefit the people.
“At whatever level you are, whether teacher, doctor, DC, PS or minister, the job is to serve and take your country to another level. I can echo the words of one former American president who said ‘do not ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’. I never took advantage of my office to enrich myself. I’m saying it here, go and search me not even K1. There is a Daniel in Babylon, and there is a Joseph in Egypt,” he said. “You know what I went through at the hands of some provincial ministers wanting to come to Southern Province because I was not stealing from the companies. Others tried to use chiefs to acquire transfers or to be given transfers to come to Southern Province because there was idle money, if you like. All that I fought it. I condemned the system of dishing out money in churches. Didn’t I? I was against the system of dishing out money while the majority citizens were wallowing in poverty. You can’t do that. Denying jobs for local boys and girls in Southern Province and bringing others from other areas. You know even if I was working in Eastern Province, I would protect those in Eastern Province. And here I’m, I can say God was so gracious to me. I’m the longest serving minister for Southern Province under difficult circumstances. And I came out clean, four years in a roll, audit query free. It is not an accident that others are being followed.”
Dr Hamukale explained that as much as there was confusion about allegations of corruption in the PF government, there were few that can stand and thank God for helping them to serve diligently.
“I may not be the only one but I proudly served diligently,” he said.
Asked why he didn’t resign, Dr Hamukale said if he resigned no one was going to fight corruption rooted in the system.
“You fight from inside and not outside. And I did. I fought it at provincial administration, I fought at national level. You have written articles about me condemning corruption, abrogation of procurement procedures and all those things are documented there,” Dr Hamukale said. “People of Southern Province needed representation and it’s an honour to get insulted on behalf of others so that they can have representation. If you quit, then you are a coward.”
Asked if he would join any political party soon, Dr Hamukale said he was available to work with anyone fighting corruption to better the lives of Zambians.
“For now I’m available for service, though I’m still in retreat doing my personal things. When I was in that office you understand that a lot of my personal things were in arrears. So I’m using this time to do things I was not doing like reading books, to make sure I catch up on my farm, on things that I did not do,” he said. “So I’m now available for service. This is my country. If you look at the likes of Miles Sampa and Chishimba Kambwili who once even formed their own political parties and abandoned them, are now back in PF. Why should it be an issue for me to leave PF, the party I served for eleven years? Why should someone condemn me when there are people like Sylvia Masebo who at one time was in another party? There are so many people that were in other political parties but quit like Dora Siliya. Why would someone judge me for leaving a party after eleven years of dedicated service?”
And Dr Hamukale urged all Zambians to support President Hakainde Hichilema in his quest to fight corruption.
“Let’s join him. Me I was doing it in Southern Province but I was a lone voice. I was seen as either rigid, backward, sleepy and all many things. Now that backwardness saved me today. I fear nothing. DEC can come and I will give them chibwantu (sweet beer). I have nothing to fear honestly,” he said. “Let’s support the President in the fight against corruption and no one should say it’s a tribal inclined operation. Whether the argument is that there is a higher percentage of corrupt people from other places, that is none of my business. All I’m saying is let’s retrieve state resources which they channeled wrongly. They were meant for the service of the people.”
Dr Hamukale said President Hichilema needed support to rid the country of selfish civil servants anywhere they are.
“Let’s put our Zambia back to where it belongs. Benefits of fighting corruption will improve our international ratings like corruption perception index. The corruption perception index has a negative bearing on foreign direct investment. Once ratings in the corruption fight radar improves to 20 per cent upwards you will see how much money this country will receive,” he said. “You will see how the underprivileged will live a better life. Corruption has a bearing on the image of the country. FDI can improve, cost of doing business can improve.”
Dr Hamukale said corruption diverted money away from services meant for the people.
“People make it so difficult to do paper work because they want kickbacks. Making the whole process cumbersome. So I’m available to help whoever is fighting corruption. I have influence in this country, I’m a musician. I have accumulated quite a good record, so whatever I do it attracts attention,” he said.
Asked that Southern Province could not have recorded any abuse of public resources because there was no funding, Dr Hamukale said the province was third-most funded in the country.
“How can you say we had no funding when we have new bus stations, Mazabuka-Turn Pike road, Kazungula bridge even if these projects were bilateral but there was money which we could have abused,” he said. “When people say funding they mean emoluments (allowances) and not money for projects. We have all this infrastructure in Southern Province because we didn’t steal the money – no wonder those infrastructures are there. What we were given as a province evidence is there in infrastructure because we prudently used the money.”
Asked if he would support calls to remove former president Lungu’s immunity, Dr Hamukale said he was ignorant about reasons behind such calls.
“All I can say is that corruption takes place in the district, at director level in the ministries and quasi-government institutions, controlling officers, at ministerial level because as a minister you can easily out rule everything. Controlling officers in the councils like town clerks and not at presidential level,” he said. “Talk of corruption in recruitment it’s not the president involved but officers charged to carry out that service.”
Dr Hamukale advised that much attention in the fight against corruption must be directed at controlling officers, procurement, councils, quasi-government institutions and ministries.
“If you can’t account and you are acquiring assets, it’s a problem. You must explain to the people. Some MPs are under declaring their assets. Let companies that were forced to donate money to PF through certain ministers who were flushing money everywhere come out in the open and tell the people the truth,” said Dr Hamukale.