THE Patriotic Front (PF) party has charged that the trending saga of the FTJ Chiluba University in Luapula province is a ploy by the UPND Alliance government to divert people’s attention from real issues on the ground.
PF Acting Secretary-General MCC Hon Nickson Chilangwa said the UPND wants to use the abandoned project to paint the PF as a corrupt party whilst promoting selfish agendas like in the mining sector.
And Hon Chilangwa explained that his role in the project was merely that of administrative because he was the sitting Provincial Minister as everything else was centrally done in Lusaka. He however said it is no secret that successive governments had previously abandoned or suspended projects for various reasons and the FTJ Chiluba University is one of them.
In a press briefing yesterday, Hon Chilangwa said it is in the public domain that a lot of projects that were below 80 per cent completion rate were suspended in under the PF rule but wondered why the party in government wants to indict the party on one project. He has therefore urged journalists to probe the matter and find out whether the money for the FTJ Chiluba University was paid and to whom the money was paid.
“Ba Hon Charles Milupi is sitting next to Hon Situmbeko Musokotwane the Minister of Finance. He should tell him to ask Hon Felix Mutati whether the money was paid because he was our Finance Minister then,” Hon Chilangwa said.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo said the much talked about $33m for the FTJ University is a figure that was split between two universities, FTJ Chiluba University and the Northern University.
Prof. Luo clarified that the money for the construction of the Universities was a loan from the Chinese government.
“If the then Minister of Finance was here, he would have given a proper explanation,” Prof Luo said.
She explained that the government had decided to slow down on all pipeline projects because there were concerns that it had overborrowed.
“FTJ University was still a pipeline project because it was just at no more than 5 per cent completion rate and that meant that it was affected by the decision by Cabinet to slow down on projects below 80 per cent,” Prof. Luo explained.
She said the contractor who had already moved on-site could not proceed because they were waiting for the government to clear the position so that money could be released for the construction of the two universities.
Prof Luo said the Ministry of Higher Education was not involved at any point to disburse funds or give legal opinions but in negotiating that the project should take place.
“Once the project is approved, the necessary paperwork is done through the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s office and the Ministry of Finance before the actual construction can begin,” she added.