DEMOCRATIC Party leader Harry Kalaba says President Hakainde Hichilema has become a ‘chief promiser’.
Featuring on Hot FM’s The Hot Seat programme on Tuesday, Kalaba expressed surprise at President Hichilema’s announcement that it would become his routine to visit any ministry when necessary.
“It is just telling us that the man is running the show alone,” he said.
During his visit to the Ministry of Health last week where he went to acquaint himself with progress made on the procurement of medicines following a protracted drug shortage and on the recruitment of 11,200 health personnel, President Hichilema said routine visits to ministries would be a common feature.
“He chose out of his own will, out of his own volition. He has chosen to give the Ministry of Health to my sister, Honourable Masebo. That means he has told all of us that whatever happens at the Ministry of Health, ‘through this person, I am directly responsible’. So, there was no need for the President to act like a police officer to leave his office to go to Ministry of Health. That is not the way we run government,” he said.
“If the President believed in the leadership at that ministry, he should be able to say ‘this is the person who is in charge’. He is still promising. I remember he is a chief promiser. Right now, you and I have been discussing most of his promises which have never come to fruition. Even the promise of saying ‘you should expect more of those (visits) you will tell me’. Tulipano (we are here).”
Kalaba said what President Hichilema needed was intelligence information on what was obtaining on the ground.
“At a time when you are desperate like this, you don’t need drama like that. What should have ordinarily happened is that first of all to know, which I know he knew, he is the President. He has a lot of intelligence before him. He should have known that there are cartels,” he said.
“Even then, that doesn’t mean government will stop because there are cartels. You can continue with procuring while ensuring that a new crop of business [is there], if that is what they want to have. What they want to have is new people to supply in their ministry. People that are UPND friendly to supply medicine. It is just telling us that the man is running the show alone.”
Kalaba described President Hichilema’s visit to Ndeke House as “playing politics”.
“We saw the President come out of State House going to Ministry of Health. To do what? There was a lot of hullabaloo, ‘oh the President is now working at Ministry of Health today, nimwamuna Bally (Ball is the man)’. Give me a break! State House, the way it is designed is that only the President can talk to any minister of any ministry on anything and find out what the problem is,” he explained.
“If I were president, I would have not gone to the Ministry of Health that morning. I would have gone to Kalingalinga without telling the minister. I would have gone on an impromptu visit to Chelston Clinic or Mandevu Clinic. I would have gone there to find out the situation. And then from there I would have driven to ZAMMSA (Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency) to see myself whether the drugs are coming in. Then the last person to talk to I would have asked my minster, how is the health situation?”
And Kalaba said there was no justification for the Ministry of Health to cancel the earlier tender in the name of normalising or sanitising the procurement process.
“Surely is there anything methodical about that? If that is not negligence, then what is it? There can never be any valid reason for neglecting a population of 20 million without buying medicines for six months,” said Kalaba.
“A clean up must run in tandem with the process of procurement. The only challenge which is there is, our colleagues in the UPND are also in a hurry to introduce their own suppliers of medicines.”