The opposition UPND has charged that the concentration of powers and responsibilities in the hands of the President is a recipe for bad governance and should not be allowed.
UNPD leader Hakainde Hichilema said that as a party, it was disappointed by President Sata’s decision to transfer the Road Development Agency (RDA) from the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication to State House.
Mr Hichilema said “as a party we were for the considered view that if President Sata was genuinely interested in strengthening the national capacity to effectively respond to the challenges of improving road networks and other related infrastructure, the best way would have been to strengthen capacity of government agencies instead of centralizing such powers and responsibilities to himself.”
The opposition leader charged that the fundamental principles of accountability and transparent in procurement of road works were even at a more risk of being seriously compromised at State house.
He said this contrary to the argument by Mr Sata that there was lack of accountability and transparency at RDA in the procurement for road works as a reason for his unilateral action.
“There is genuine fear that most road tenders will be given to those perceived to be politically correct and have access to the President at the expense of deserving contractors who may not have access to State House.
This is likely to breed corruption, nepotism and favouritism because the tender process is likely to be at the mercy of Presidential Decrees,” Hichilema observed.
Mr Hichilema further observed that it would be difficult for an institution that was controlled from the Office of the President to be genuinely audited.
He said this would also create difficulties for the investigative wings to question any suspicions of corruption or fraud since most activities under that office were highly classified.
“As UPND, we demand that the responsibilities and abilities of government service delivery agencies, such as RDA be strengthened and later decentralized to Local Authorities with the necessary capacity building support as part of the devolution process.
Good Governance demands reposing of resources, powers and responsibilities in institutions that are closer to the people and can easily be held accountable,” he said.
Mr Hichilema claimed that when UPND comes to power in 2016, it was going to run a government of the people which would devolve the procurement, rehabilitation and construction of roads and other infrastructure development to capacitated Local Authorities as a matter of good governance for sustainable socio-economic development.
“We however do not want to wait until 2016 and see damage being done to the road sector which is the back bone of sustainable economic development.
It is for this reason that we are appealing to PF not to continue paying lip service to the decentralization process but to demonstrate that they are willing to devolve powers and resources to the lower organs of government in order to strengthen the local government system which is closer to the people,” Hichilema said.
He said as UPND, this appeal was in the best interest of the nation and sincerely believed that measure taken by President Sata was not sustainable because it was built and centered around one person, which was an exact opposite of facilitating sustainable development through decentralization.
He observed that there was need to build credible and durable institutions and systems of good governance instead of building individual empires that may produce undesirable dictatorial and corrupt practices.