Minister grilled


MINISTER of Local Government and Housing Dr John Phiri yesterday disclosed that there was only one advertisement in the Post Newspaper for the sale of land on Mwatusanga road near State House which was sold on first come first served basis.

This was in Parliament where Dr Phiri failed to satisfactorily answer questions from Members of Parliament who doubted his answers.

Dr Phiri disclosed that they recieved 36 applicants for the land but only 22 benefited.

The issue came up as a result of a point of order raised by Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo last week who asked the Speaker of National Assembly if Dr Phiri was in order to mislead  the House that LCC had only disposed of one property namely Looters in Libala when in fact they had sold another property near State House. In substantiating her point of order Ms. Masebo laid on the table an extract from a council report showing that the nursery and park land (near State House) had been surveyed, numbered, sub-divided and valued in US dollars.

But Dr Phiri, who did not seem to have new and convincing answers for Members of Parliament, kept saying that procedure was followed and according to him there was nothing wrong with the way the said properties were sold.

He said that the council had resolved to dispose of plot number LUS/20870 on Mwatusanga road at its December 30th 2014 meeting.

“The permanent secretary in my ministry had written to LCC on 18th June 2015 asking the town clerk to furnish the ministry with information on the Mwatusanga road property. I was therefore aware that the process leading to the disposal of the property on Mwatusanga road had not been completed according to the comprehensive report which the council had submitted to the ministry,” Dr Phiri tried to justify his answers which contradicted the first answer given by his Ministry when the issue first came up.

But when Ms. Masebo was given an opportunity to ask a follow up question ,she said that she was a very sad Zambian in the manner the ministry had been trying to deliberately dodge the question at hand.

“Iam a very sad citizen of this country called Zambia by the statement given by the minister. From the onset he had deliberately decided not to answer the question. Considering the Local Government Act which gives the Minister powers to approve any disposal of council property, is he telling the house that the council did follow the law when disposing of the said property by getting his permission?” She asked.

Dr Phiri who was at pains to answer the question, defended the council by claiming that the said property was meant for mixed zone use and that the local authority did not need his authority

Senanga Central Member of Parliament Likando Mufalali wanted to know whether the Minister was now setting a precedence of selling some of the council properties whenever local authorities ran out of cash to pay for sitting allowances in the near future.

Mafinga Member of Parliament Catherine Namugala wanted to know how much land would be left for the people of Lusaka if LCC resorted to selling Land each time they were broke.

“Mr Minister this is not a partisan issue. We hope the Minister will help us by giving us answers to what has happened, I know that he is an innocent man and from deep down his heart he knows that some council workers benefited so really if LCC is allowed to sell land each time they are broke how much land will remain for the People of Lusaka,” she asked.

Meanwhile, Lubasenshi independent Member of Parliament Patrick Mucheleka asked the minister if it was possible to reverse the sale of the  property because he was worried that the rate at which LCC was selling properties, all the 37 parks in the city could be sold by next year.

Dr Phiri said if there was any other information the parliamentarians had contrary to the council report, they were free to visit his office

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