By elections: Playing with figures

‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Not that the Treasury was lying, but a deliberate attempt was made to beguile the public with an elaborate array of statistics which  were intended to pacify concerns  regarding  budget overruns occasioned  by the multitude of corrupt by elections being induced by Government.

In the new set of statistic the Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Fredson Yamba soothingly states that only K44million has been released to the Electoral Commission of Zambia. This amount he categorically states is a mere 2.8 percent of the total budget releases for the period January to June 2013.

Therefore, according to our hallowed Treasury mandarins, there is nothing to worry about because the amount is miniscule, a mere 2.8 percent allocation of Ministries, Provinces and spending Agencies and could not in any way affect the overall performance of the budget and implementation of development projects.

So far so good. But what are the facts?

The budget for by-elections for the year was K4million or K4billion old currency. So far by July, long before the year has ended the Government has spent K44million of K44 billion. This represents over expenditure of

1,000 percent- one thousand percent.

It is understandable that the treasurer is attempting to justify the technicalities of expenditure. This is not and has never been the issue.

The issue we have raised in a question of morality and corruption.

We are saying that to overspend by 1,000 percent on a political cause while more pressing matters remain un-attended is not moral but to spend for the consolidation of political power is corruption, because public funds are being expended  for sectarian purposes. The social contract demands that public funds are spend for the common good and by elections that are meant to increase numbers for the PF in Parliament can hardly be described as a common good.

The contingency budget for 2013 was K90.1million and to spend more than half of it on by election is an unconscionable abuse.

It is an abuse because, money cannot be found to help the Kampasa residents who are now squatting and sleeping in the cold because their homes were destroyed in less than clear circumstances.

Public funds should go towards ameliorating their suffering.

It is an abuse because money cannot be found to ensure that the University Teaching Hospital has running water so that surgical operations are not postponed due to lack of water.

It is an abuse because the toilets at the Evelyn Hone College are in a mess and students must cross the busy church road to Levy Junction to relieve

It is not good enough for the treasury to put together a creative package of accounting in order to re-assure the nation, what Zambians want is good stewardship to ensure that resources are applied to projects and programmes that have universal rather than partisan interest.

Very soon too the Government will finance an increased emolument package for the public service from extra budgetary funds. This is an expenditure that will undoubtedly bring inflationary pressure on the nation as there will be no corresponding increase in production.

Again those to be impacted are the majority un employed Zambians. These are Zambians with no belts to adjust. They must absorb the increased costs of goods and service from their very limited incomes. These are the voters who expected more money in their pockets, but will instead even have the little taken away from them.

This is not social justice.