Chishimba Kambwili says he did not want to comment on Ministry of Health’s latest acquisition of 50 ambulances earlier thinking that Edgar Lungu would institute investigations to ascertain how a Land Cruiser ambulance could be purchased at US$ 288,000.
“A Land Cruiser hardtop from Toyota Zambia costs US$60,000. Now when you look at the things that are in that ambulance that they have bought from Savenda at US$288,000, there is only a bed, small shelf, and a bench for paramedics. If you add up the cost of those three items I have mentioned, they will not exceed US$5,000, meaning therefore that an ambulance would only cost, to the most, $70,000, a fully equipped ambulance, a Land Cruiser that is duty free because government does not pay duty,” says Kambwili.
“Are we going to allow a situation where an ambulance can be purchased at $288,000 and we are quiet watching? I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt President Edgar Lungu is corrupt himself and he has no political will to fight corruption because he is corrupt Zambian number one. This is straightforward, we can go to Toyota Zambia and get a quotation and see how much we bought Land Cruiser ambulances before, did they cost $288,000? The answer is no. Why are we allowing a few individuals in government to be exaggerating costs of some of these things and pocketing the money and we are all watching? I am telling you Zambians, by the time Edgar Lungu finishes his term in 2021, Zambia will be bankrupt because it appears we Zambians are docile; we don’t want to participate in running this country.”
Billions of kwacha or millions of dollars are spent each year buying goods and services for the government. From schools and hospitals, to roads and agriculture inputs, this means big budgets and complex plans. It also means ideal opportunities for corruption. Contracts to suppliers can be awarded without fair competition. This allows companies with political connections to those in power to triumph over their rivals. Or companies within the same industry can rig their bids, so each gets a piece of the pie. This increases the cost of services to the public. It’s clear that corruption can add a gigantic mark up to a project’s costs.
But corruption in public procurement isn’t just about money. It also reduces the quality of work or services. And it can cost lives. Our people have paid a terrible personal price for poor public works and counterfeit or low grade but very expensive products. The end result? Our trust in our leaders is eroded.
All of us can help ensure taxpayers’ money is well spent. Government must guarantee to provide good quality services, bought at a fair price. This means it needs strong procurement systems. It’s up to us to make sure these are put in place.
What do these systems look like? Above all, they’re transparent. This means we can see what’s going on. Then we can hold government, bidders and contractors accountable for their actions. Good procurement systems are also shaped by clear regulations that meet international standards. And they’re overseen by strong institutions that enforce those rules. They also provide access to information and effective complaints mechanisms. These let us report suspected corruption confidentially and without threat.