Zambia: Netizens Bay for Ex-President's Blood

When Zambia’s defeated president in the September 20 elections, Rupiah Banda said in his farewell speech that he never knowingly abused state funds but simply did what was best for Zambia, what citizens did not know was that the revelations and extent of the alleged abuse would come thick and fast within the first couple of weeks of the new PF government.

The first revelation was the excess expenditure on the former ruling MMD’s flagship road rehabilitation project in cities and towns across the country as part of its extravagant campaign to have President Banda re-elected together with its parliamentary candidates.  The project overran by over K4 trillion, not a small amount even in US dollar terms at an exchange rate of about K5,000 per dollar.

One morning in the run to the elections, Zambians woke up to find graders and dump trucks busy working on the roads that had not been repaired for ages. They dismissed it as just one of those campaign gimmicks, wishing that elections were held every year so that a lot of development projects could be done annually.

When the new president announced the appointment of a new inspector general of police, he ordered him to probe the possible ilicit payment of an on-going K4 billion per month for the use of customs scanners at one border post by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) allegedly to a top government official.

A newly graded road in Lusaka, which was part of former ruling part extravagant campaign. Image courtesy of Facebook user Nkweto Tembwe.

Another developing scandal was the seizure of about 37 motor vehicles which were used by the MMD during its campaigns. Apparently, these vehicles were part of a consignment of over 200 vehicles brought into the country along other campaign materials for which the then ruling party allegedly did not pay import duty. The now ruling party PF challenged the imports in court but the case was thrown out by a judiciary that apparently favoured the then ruling MMD.

After the elections and a new government installed, the police moved in on their own to probe the source of the vehicles.

Anger began to mount among the citizens after police recovered nearly 1300 bicycles from the former finance minister in the MMD government, Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane’s farm just outside Lusaka. The bicycles must have been part of thousands of others that were distributed around the country for campaigns.

Like in the tale of the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, the disclosure by President Sata that his predecessor spent K3.6 billion to buy and airlift two luxury Lexus cars into the country, drove the country into baying for his blood. Netizens, as usual, led the calls for the removal of the former president’s immunity and have him investigated and prosecuted for misconduct during his nearly three year tenure.

One netizen on Zambian Peoples Pact, a Facebook group that discusses Zambian politics, Mutheliso Phiri, disagrees with President Sata’s exposure of his predecessor:

I think it makes little sense to me if President Sata is going to come out in public condeming how his predecessor spent money on luxury. If he is really concerned about the welfare of the people he should be the first to demonstrate it by directing that Cabinet Ministers salaries should be reduced to K1,000,000 and and teachers and health workers should earn K30,000,000 each per month.
He should also ensure that the budget for the President should be lower than that allocated to education, health and agriculture.

A hote debate ensued under this post and attracted nearly 90 responses at the time of writing, Mwandu Nkonde Mwamba, responds:

this post is childish.As a President he is entitled to some luxury even royalty is but it doesnt mean he has to spend recklessly like your president.If your RB was re elected back he would have been flying half the world right now.My president is still in the country and thats part of saving….Mwilalandalanda fye (don't just talk) Let the man work.Your president failed miserably and he should pay for the crimes he committed against us

Muchiti Phiri defends President Sata’s disclosure of the former president’s deeds:

@ Phiri, we call it transparency,there is nothing wrong with Sata's action to disclose. Zambians need to know all the secrete dealings. We have no time of keeping sacred cows. 3.6 billion spent of Lexus,and all you can say is, he made a mistake coming out in Public. You must be joking mwana. There is no need of treating RB as a sacred cow,he is a THIEF who has no heart for Zambia….PERIOD.

President Banda’s speech comes back to haunt him as Derick Kachenjela explains:

WE NEVER KNOWINGLY ABUSED STATE FUNDS. WE SIMPLY DID WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS BEST FOR ZAMBIA. I HOPE THE NEXT GOVERNMENT WILL ACT LIKEWISE IN YEARS TO COME.Could this be what led our Leader behave the way he did or He knew what he was doing? yesterday was so difficult for me,could i be the one to blame as well for having voted him in 2008 thinking he was going to carry on the Mwanawasa dream or who people help me here.3.6billion Lexus,4 billion monthly payment on scanners,too numerous to mention trips in the pretext of looking for investors kanshi it was a trip for bana Junior Tandiwe to visit these Countries and have fun,Buying a limousine in 2009 and only to come and have an accident at the state house gates then fly it back for repair though,we don't even know if it came back or it was sold and money landing at Bandas farm legacy or is it the one they used to buy 2 Lexus vehicles.Hospitals no medicine,poor schools with no materials,poor infrastructure example is ministry of lands,poor roads,poverty,the list is endless where this money could have been channelled.Help me here should i as well apologise for putting a snake in the garden of Eden? Go to council offices or any Government offices and see how bad they look,Its a sorry state of affairs.


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