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 2010-06-30 02:49 am Back to NEWS
'State if you don’t need our money' — Danish MP

Chairwoman of Denmark's foreign affairs committee, Marion Pedersen, has challenged Rupiah Banda to state categorically if his government doesn't need donor funds because there are other countries in need of help.

And Magande observed that the country was going nowhere under President Banda's leadership.

Reacting to President Banda's assertions that nobody asked the donors to help Zambia in a telephone interview from Denmark, Pedersen, who serves as a Danish member of parliament on the Liberal Party, said money should not be given to those who did not want it.

"I have always had that expression that we don't give money to anybody who don't want it. And actually when we were talking with some of the ministers, we asked them 'would you be better without our money?'

And they said 'no, of course not, it's good," Pedersen said. "I mean if the government don't want the money they should just say to us because there are a lot of other countries who would like to have money."

Pedersen said there was nothing wrong in donors questioning how donor money was being spent in Zambia.

"Because it is Danish taxpayers' money and we have to answer to them when they ask us 'what is our money spent for in Zimbabwe and in Zambia?' We need to say 'well they are funds spent on this and that," Pedersen said. "And therefore we have to check and if they are not spent the right way we need to say to the Zambian government: 'This is not right. This is not what we have intended this money to go to.'"

Pedersen said donors would continue providing checks and balances on their money.

"As long as we are putting the money into the country we will still continue to see what the money is spent for. We have decided to spend the money on the people and not on government officials or others," said Pedersen. "The money we are spending is tax money. So we need to know it is going to the people and funds are making a difference for the people."

And Magande expressed surprise with President Banda's response to a simple question.

"He was asked a simple question 'Are we doing the right thing?'. One would have expected him to say 'yes, we are, except there are problems'. But then he picked a question which I think was raised by one of the donors and say that 'the donors should not be involved in what we are doing'," Magande said.

"It showed that he didn't seem to be aware of what was happening. While he was away his own minister of works and supply Mike Mulongoti, Secretary to the Treasury, the permanent secretary for works and supply, the director for RDA Road Development Agency were all giving conflicting statements to us the stakeholders to an extent where I think one of them admitted that there are things which were not being done properly, for example that there was in fact over-commitment of K1 trillion."

Magande said the issues that were being raised by the donors were to do with Zambians inefficiencies.

"And the minister of works and supply said 'yes, there must have been because we have to make promises to Zambians for purposes of being elected'. And obviously when you have a statement like that from a senior minister of government you begin wondering what is happening in government," Magande said.

"In the road sector, under what we call Roadsip, it was basically most of the donors who were supporting our development. In particular I think that EU Ambassador was asking questions about the Zimba-Livingstone road, and then the President says 'no, we didn't even call these people. We don't even know why they are here'."

Magande said it was clear that President Banda did not have grip on what was happening.

"That project started in 2004. What happened, the EU had helped us with Kabwe-Kapiri Mposhi road. When President Mwanawasa went to open that road that's when the Ambassador then Mr Sprietsma said that 'in fact we have done this road cheaper and we have a bit of money to spare'. So he asked to say 'can we use this money to complete the Livingstone road?'" he narrated.

Magande explained that he then wrote a letter to the EU asking that the money which was left over could be used to complete the Zimba-Livingstone road.

He said it was now becoming evident that there was lack of planning and control in government because President Banda could not attack donors over a project that was started many years ago.

"I would say that the statement was very, very un-diplomatic from somebody who claims to have been a diplomat for a long time. Later on to say the donors are here on their own, these are not like investors who come here like those who go in the mines, who make a lot of money and take home," Magande said. "The donor community is government…they are coming because we asked them to come and help us. All these projects are being done under what is called Poverty Reduction Budget Support programme. So even now the minister of finance must sit with donors for them to indicate how much they are able to contribute to this Budget which he is presenting in October."

Magande said with the statement from President Banda he did not see how finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane would convince the donors to help the country. He said in the 2009 Budget there was a deficit of K3 trillion which was supposed to come from the donors.

"So if they don't bring this K3 trillion how are they going to do our programmes? President Banda's inefficiency should not be blamed on the donors. When we agreed to poverty reduction budget support when Zambia was looking like it was under capable management there were conditions which we were put under agreement," Magande said.

"We said we would be transparent, we will be accountable and we will be effective and we will report to the stakeholders on frequent basis on what was happening. And the stakeholders are the civil society and the external financiers. What is he trying to say to us? That donors should not ask simple questions like that asked by Ambassador Derek Fee 'how come the first 30 kilometres of the Zimba-Livingstone road the prices were low? Now on the 42 kilometres the prices are 100 per cent high?"

Magande said the country was heading nowhere under President Banda because citizens and donors were now not allowed to provide checks and balances.

"So if citizens don't know where you are going, how do you say you are heading somewhere?" asked Magande. "I can't even imagine that a young person like the Vice-President George Kunda can join this chorus about colonialism. He was nowhere near to be punished by the colonialists. Has he even written a book on colonial behaviour?"

Magande said Vice-President Kunda should have spent his time on the Copperbelt to address miners' complaints about the conditions of services which had not improved after the so-called financial crisis was over.

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