FORMER Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) chairman and Chief Executive Francis Kaunda and Access Financial Services (AFS) Director Faustin Kabwe have been jailed for two years each with hard labour for abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud.
In the first count, Kaunda, 70, was charged with abuse of authority after he allegedly offered Ndola Primary School to Ndola Trust School for sale.
In the second count, Kaunda was charged with Kabwe with conspiracy to defraud ZCCM by arbitrarily offering Ndola Primary School to Ndola Trust School, an act that was prejudicial to the interests of the Government.
High Court deputy registrar, Edward Musona sitting in the magistrate’s court sentenced Kaunda to two years imprisonment in the first count and another two years in the second count of conspiracy to defraud.
The sentences will however run concurrently. Kabwe was also jailed two years for conspiracy to defraud.
In passing sentence, Mr Musona said he appreciated that the crime committed was a misdemeanor but that he had observed some seriousness in the circumstances of the offense.
He said that the school was not sold to the right buyer as per privatisation guidelines and that the two were senior citizens who were supposed to lead by example.
The court was satisfied that Kaunda was contracted to assist in the sale of ZCCM assets and was therefore described as a public officer.
Mr Musona noted that Ndola Primary School PTA had offered K520 million while Nsansa School offered a total of US$300,000. He also noted that the valuation for the school was K400 million.
He said the offer was not given to Nsansa Primary School, which was the preferred bidder but instead a firm called Cave Malik made a bid after the closing date and offered K200 million which was less than what other bidders had offered.
Mr Musona also observed that at the time, Ndola Trust School was not yet registered and Bimo Thaker, the lawyer who represented Cave Malik and was also a consultant for ZCCM at the time of privatisation was still on the run.
He said Ndola Trust School communicated their offer after the closing date for bids and that what happened was unusual because the school was sold to a fictitious and non-existent entity represented by Kabwe.
The court stated that Kaunda knew that Kabwe who had signed for the bidder was his friend and that he never declared interest.
Mr Musona said the school could have been sold to anyone provided that the procedure was followed and that Ndola Trust School could not have had the experience because it was not yet registered.
He said the State had proved that there was dishonesty in the manner the school was offered and that the Government and ZCCM lost out on the higher bids and Nsansa School, which had the past experience of running schools.
In defence, Kaunda had stated that it was not true that he conspired with Kabwe to sell the school without the approval of the owners who were ZCCM.
He said he did not arbitrarily offer the school because it was not possible as ZCCM assets had to be sold by ZCCM themselves through the negotiating team.
In mitigation, Kaunda and Kabwe through their lawyers, Vincent Malambo and John Sangwa urged the court to be lenient in sentencing them because the offense was a misdemeanor and therefore a custodial sentence was not necessary.
The lawyers said the fact that their clients had been found guilty was enough punishment and that the court should consider that it had not been proved that Kaunda and Kabwe benefited from the transaction and therefore did not deserve the jail term.
After judgement, Mr Sangwa indicated that his client was going to appeal to the high court.