The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) notes the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMs Office) on Tuesday 13 September on the controversial matter of the procurement of luxury vehicles for government ministers. The statement however falls short in giving a full and accountable public explanation of the procurement of these luxury vehicles in a number of respects.
The first is that the Prime Minister and government have sought to react only after the story was broken by the media. And in doing so, it is unfortunate that instead of simply giving a clear explanation as to the nature of this transaction, the PM’s office decided to take an unnecessary swipe at the media for doing its job by falsely accusing it of ‘mistruths and sensationalism’. If anything it is the government and government ministers who have been dishonest about the matter of the procurement of these state of the art luxury vehicles.
The truth of the matter is that the media simply did its job within the difficult circumstances of evasive ministerial subordinates to the Prime Minister who have been blaming each other on the same said matter.
In the second inadequacy, the fact that the PMs office in its statement seeks to instruct a subordinate ministry to issue a public statement on the same matter raises serious issues of whether the PM’s office is being sincere. It would have been expected that the PM’s office categorically indicates that further clarification on the matter of these luxury vehicles will be issued formerly and in a manner that is appropriate for all citizens to understand.
Instead the opaque nature of the instruction to the Ministry of Transport via a press statement is not formal enough, and is potentially indicative of an intention to once again play the blame game on the matter of the procurement of the luxury vehicles. It should be apparent that the PM acts on behalf of government, and on this matter, decisive leadership by the PM is expected.
The CPC once again reiterates that the matter of the procurement of these luxury vehicles is not as simple a matter as comparing it to the purchase of vehicles for government departments. Neither is it a matter that can easily be swept under the carpet via a singular press statement. Cabinet, which the PM deputises, is the highest level of leadership of government in the country.
And it should lead by example through demonstrating sensitivity to the plight of the majority poor by living within the country’s means and prioritising the social welfare needs of the majority poor. It remains a travesty and a grave social injustice to have a government that seeks justification at demonstrating such opulence either by shifting blame for the purchase of these vehicles or by seeking to falsely justify it through claims at expenditure from 2010.
The PM’s office and relevant subordinates in cabinet must initially explain why the 1,5 million was not utilised in 2010, and how much the actual vehicles that are being driven in 2011 by cabinet ministers cost to the taxpayer. Failure to do so will leave the people of Zimbabwe with no option but to view our Cabinet with the suspicion that one views those who have taken what belongs to the village for personal gain.