Govt property plundered

SOME senior Government officials gripped by the fear of losing their jobs after the January 20 presidential election are plundering Government property including houses and vehicles.

Government sources have revealed a discriminatory scheme in which only a few top civil servants were sharing houses that were designated as institutional or pool houses, whose sale had been banned.

The prospects of losing jobs and other benefits if Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) or Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND came into office has forced the adjustment of policy to enable the top civil servants buy pool houses.

“This is not fair and we should all be allowed to buy pool houses not just the top officials,” an officer complained.

The officials have insisted that schemes were underway to sell institutional houses in contravention of public policy and that this was being done to give unfair advantage to top-most civil servants.

“High-level connections are at play here. We know who are involved and why they are doing each other favours at the expense of public policy,” he said.

But Works and Supply deputy minister Colonel Panji Kaunda said it was not true that some senior civil servants had offered themselves Government houses and vehicles for sale because every Government property was well documented and recorded.

Col Kaunda said Government pool houses could not be sold to the current occupants because they were institutional properties that could not be converted to private property.

Col Kaunda said it was not easy for any Government property to be sold without the knowledge of the Secretary to Cabinet who was the principal controlling offer in Government, adding that as far as he was concerned, no civil servant was taking advantage of the transition period to loot public property.

“There is nothing like plundering public property and it is a total lie that such is happening. Government property cannot be sold like one buying cabbage at the market. There is a systematic and consistent process through which Government property such as houses and motor vehicles are disposed of and this cannot succeed without the Secretary to Cabinet approving and so far he has not approved anything of that nature,” Col Kaunda said.

Junior officers however have revealed that there was panic in the ministries and statutory institutions where officials are reported to have started converting Government vehicles into personal names.

There is fear that the new Government would not be able to trace the property because documents were being destroyed. The officers believe that there is a systematic plunder of public property as there are growing fears that whoever was going to form government after this month’s presidential election would not renew their contracts.

But Cabinet Office said it was not possible for senior civil servants to misappropriate Government properties because the system was tight and could only be breached if there were a chain of officers involved in the illegal act.   The officials from Cabinet Office explained that the Government system had to continue functioning whenever Government was about to change hands or not and that speculations about civil servants looting public property were unfounded because all the properties were well documented.

They said the conditions of service of senior civil servants were that after the expiry of their contracts or tenure of their offices, they were entitled to buy the personal to holder vehicles and offered a house to buy as part of their terminal benefits.

“There is no plunder or looting of Government property such as houses or motor vehicles. The information you have is not only incorrect but incomplete because the conditions of service for senior civil servants are such that after the expiry of their contracts or tenure of office, they are offered personal to holder vehicles and houses to buy as part of their terminal benefits,” they said

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