LIVINGSTONE acting district commissioner Harriet Kawina says there is a group of people extorting money from vulnerable women on grounds that they will uplift their livelihoods through financial support.
Briefing the media in her office, Kawina urged Livingstone residents who might have been victims of the alleged scam to report to the police or her office as police were looking for the organisation’s leaders.
“I wish to bring to the attention of the general public in Livingstone that we have an organisation called Social Protection AID Zambia (SPAZ) that has been going round collecting money which they say is for registration. This organisation which should be an NGO came to report to the office that they are an NGO that has come from Lusaka, and that they also operate on the Copperbelt and other areas,” she said.
“They come to pay a courtesy call on my office (February 13) that they want to operate in Livingstone…after this, we started receiving calls and complaints from residents and these concerns are that these people started collecting money and informing people that they are working with the office of the district commissioner, with the government, [and that] the police has given them permission to start collecting money, and people are now coming in numbers.”
Kawina said the group claim to have four programmes that is, a micro-financing component through which they are promising each of the 20 members to receive a grant of K5,000 for 6 months.
“Poultry in which they are asking each woman to show them where they can build a poultry house, electrified and buy all implements; feed for 110 chicks for six months; tailoring and designing through which they are promising a full package; rent a shop for 24 months; provide industrial machine and four bales of materials and also the same for the embroidery programme,” she said. “The group is also promising to pay a sitting allowance of K1,000 for meetings and that each club will get K7,000 and that after two years they will wean them off and move to another area.” Kawina said the said group was requesting that women should be in groups of 20 to be eligible to form a club.
She named the officials that paid a courtesy call on her last month as the coordinator Innocent Chinyama, logistical officer Kennard Mwanza, and Onisha Mwanza, the organisation’s deputy coordinator.
Also mentioned on a letter from the organisation to Kawina is Doreen Masambo, who is in charge of research and advocacy.
Kawina warned that the group was not genuine and that investigations have revealed that there was no record of the organisation with the social welfare department, NGOCC and no certificate of registration with PACRA or the Registrar of Societies.
“The activities of these people remain questionable and we are requesting residents to be aware of such people and that women that have already paid the K50, plus K15 for identity cards, we would like to request that they come to the office of the mayor, the police or the district commissioner…as of now we don’t know where they operate from and all of them say that they are from Lusaka. We have to ascertain their credibility…the report that we have is that they have already collected from a lot of women in Dambwa, Malota, Ngwenya, Linda Dambwa Site and Service. They have also collected money from Railways and town area,” she said.
Kawina said the government was distancing itself from the activities of the organisation, adding that police were looking for its leaders.
“They have penetrated Livingstone…we have their contact numbers. From the time we contacted them the phones have gone silent and some numbers are registered in different names…the sad part of this is that they are saying that they are working with the DC’s office…we will not allow a situation where vulnerable people are being swindled in such a way,” she said.
Kawina said the group might have collected a lot of money as it was demanding that each women’s group should have at least 20 members and that the group has visited each the 17 wards in Livingstone.
But when called, Mwape, the logistics officer, handed the phone to a Mr Sinyama, who said he belongs to SPAZ but claimed he was in a noisy area and would call back, but never did by press time.
Chinyama’s line was switched off, as was Onisha Mwanza’s line, and two other numbers on the organisation’s profile given to Kawina.