RB, Mike Mulongoti and others could face arrest
FORMER Republican president, Rupiah Banda and 14 others who include some of his former ministers, may face arrest following Cabinet’s unanimous decision that they stand trial on allegations of corruption and breach of financial regulations.
Cabinet resolved on Wednesday that Mr Banda alongside former minister of Finance and National Planning, Situmbeko Musokotwane and former Works and Supply minister, Mike Mulongoti should stand trial in connection with alleged irregularities at the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) which took place during the MMD’s reign.
The resolution is hinged on recommendations to Cabinet by the Kingsley Chanda-Commission of Inquiry in the 117-paged report that was handed over to President Michael Sata last month.
The report was released to the public yesterday by Finance and National Planning Minister, Alexander Chikwanda during a media briefing in Lusaka.
Mr Chikwanda said Cabinet held a meeting on Wednesday at which it was resolved that Mr Banda and 14 other officials listed in the report should stand trial on allegations of corruption, abuse of authority and generally breaching financial regulations.
The report contains a list of 14 people that should be prosecuted because of their alleged roles in suspected financial transgressions in the previous government and Mr Banda appears on top of the list while Dr Musokotwane, is second.
The report recommends that Mr Banda should be tried because he allegedly participated in the procurement of four extra-border cargo scanners and for his alleged role in increasing a loan from China from US$100 million to $125 million. A Chinese company, Nuctech, was single-sourced to come and manage the scanners.
Mr Banda has been a subject of debate on whether his immunity should be lifted so that he could have an opportunity to clear his name of allegations of impropriety.
Dr Musokotwane’s company, ZamBuild Investment Limited, is alleged to have supplied bricks to Varun Beverages of Lusaka, a company he is alleged to have earlier awarded tax concessions for five years.
But Dr Musokotwane said he was ready to face the law and that the State would have to prove in the courts of law that the business his company got to supply the bricks to the Pepsi Manufacturing Company was based on the tax deferment that Varun Beverages was given.
Dr Musokotwane charged the Government merely wanted to victimise political opponents as Cabinet could not discuss who should be prosecuted or not but that this role should be left to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and security wings.
The report has also named former minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Eustarckio Kazonga while Mr Mulongoti has been named over his alleged role in awarding of border concessions for the management of Nakonde, Mwami, Jimbe, Kipushi and Chanida.
Mr Mulongoti has also been mentioned over the award of the Kasumbalesa Border Post concession, while former Transport and Communications minister, Geoffrey Lungwangwa has also been named.
But Mr Mulongoti said he was available to stand before any security officer to explain the transaction at Kasumbalesa Border because all the money came from a private company and that no single “ngwee” came from the treasury.
Mr Mulongoti said the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry, Mr Chanda, should have declared interest instead of participating in the probe as he also allegedly participated and lost during the tender process.
He said Mr Chanda also allegedly benefitted from the Chirundu Border project as a consultant and was paid Government money.
Mr Mulongoti wondered why Mr Chanda did not invite him to testify when sittings were opened instead of naming them in a report which did not portray his side of the story.
He said it did not make sense to open tenders for a project that would be funded by a private investor who was willing to handover the project to the Zambian Government after recovering their profits.
The report also states that former Secretary to the Treasury, Likolo Ndalamei would have to answer over his alleged role in the cancellation of the Nakonde border construction project.
Incumbent ZRA director of administration, Tenthani Banda, has also been named and so has former ZRA Commissioner-General, Wisdom Nhekairo over his alleged role in the contract to a company called Bradwell.
Mr Nhekairo’s predecessor, Criticles Mwansa will have to justify the alleged direct bidding of Nuctech, Cargo Scans and the procurement of four additional scanners and reduction of the tender floatation period from eight weeks to one week.
The report states that the additional scanners were clearly not needed.
Former Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) director-general, David Kapitolo, is mentioned for alleged failure to verify information made available to ZPPA by ZRA in relation to the direct bidding of the companies.
[Times of Zambia]