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Zesco manager testifies in Kambwili case

(By Mwaka Ndawa and Oliver Chisenga)

 

A PROCUREMENT and stores manager at Zesco limited has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that the money that was paid to Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services limited by the energy firm was for services that it rendered and not proceeds of crime.

Testifying before principal resident magistrate Mwaka Mikalile Brian Kambole said Mwamona Engineering was paid according to the contract signed for the construction of houses and toilets at Luzuwa Hydro Power Station.

This is in a matter where Chishimba Kambwili, his son Mwamba, two Zambia Revenue Authority officials, and Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services limited are facing charges of possessing more than K6 million, preparing a false document, obtaining pecuniary advantage, and uttering a false document.

Kambole said in December 2016, he was served with a warrant of access by Anti-Corruption Commission officers requesting for documents relating to the contract that was signed between Zesco and Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services limited.

He said he compiled the contractual documents and submitted to the ACC officers.

He explained that before a contract is awarded to a bidder or contractor, it has to be evaluated.

“The first stage is the preliminary evaluation where we look at the eligibility of the bidder participating in tender of bids. After that, it goes into the next stage which is the technical evaluation where we asses the bidder’s capability to complete a contract, and thirdly the commercial evaluation stage where the selected bidder is awarded the contract,” Kambole said. “The highest tender is ranked high and the lowest bid price is ranked first and that is the highest bidder.”

Kambole said after the best bidder is selected, the evaluation report is submitted to the tender committee for approval and the rest of the bidders not satisfied with the outcome have the right to appeal within 10 working days.

“During 10 working days, the best bidder is awarded the contract and they are invited for contract negotiations after which a draft contract is prepared and submitted to the office of the Attorney General for clearance as mandated by law,” Kambole explained.

In cross-examination, Kambole said by awarding a contract to Mwamona, Zesco was satisfied that the engineering company had met all criteria.

When asked if Kambwili’s company was duly registered for income tax by the defense counsel Keith Mweemba, the witness responded in the affirmative.

Kambole further denied negotiating with Kambwili at the time the contract was awarded.

He said Mwamona Engineering was genuinely awarded the contract by Zesco and the company was entitled to the payment for the services rendered as the contract was valid.

 

And Nalishebo Chibatabata, a branch manager at Atlas Mara (formerly Finance Bank of Zambia) in Luanshya said between 2014 and 2015, different sums of money was deposited into an account belonging to Kambwili’s company by China Henan.

Chibatabata said Kambwili, his wife Carol and Yushuvu were the authorised signatories to a dollar current account number 0314451790201, which was domiciled at the said bank in Luanshya.

 

She told magistrate Mikalile that on February 16, 2017, ACC officers requested for bank statements relating to Mwamona Engineering.

 

She said she retrieved a bank mandate, which contains the names of the bank, the company and date of registration.

 

“Between August 28, 2014 and January 9, 2015, China Henan had deposited thousands of dollars into Mwamona’s account and on different dates. Part of the money was withdrawn from the account by Yushuvu and some was transferred to an account domiciled at Standard Chartered Bank,” Nalishebo testified.

 

During cross-examination, Chibatabata said the significance of her testimony was to confirm the bank mandates and the transactions relating to the account in question before court.

 

She said there was no illegality relating to the transactions as the account had never been frozen.

 

The state witness confirmed to the court that a suspicious transaction report has never been presented to her neither has a report been made to the Financial Intelligence Centre or the Anti-Corruption Commission over the transactions.

 

The banker said the engineering company was entitled to receive deposits in its account as well as make withdrawals and use the money in a way it deems fit as long as it did not indulge in illicit activities.

 

The matter comes up only July 18.

 

Outside court, Kambwili wondered what kind of a government the PF were who “don’t think”.

Lamenting the non-payment of lecturers at the University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, the imposition of a livestock movement ban in Southern Province and the big delegation of government officials to DR Congo, Kambwili wondered what kind of a government was in office.

 

“CBU, University of Zambia lecturers have not been paid, what’s’ going on? Treat people with respect when they give their services. Those people judiciously teach our children at the two learning institutions, they don’t deserve this treatment of not finding money to pay them,” Kambwili said.

 

“The University of Zambia, CBU are grant aided institutions. By law, government is obliged to send the grants every month to these institutions and one of the uses for these grants is to pay salaries to run the institution.”

 

Kambwili, who is leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress, said the PF government says one thing but does the opposite.

 

“[Higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo] was today saying this country could never change by changing presidents if we don’t focus on education but how do you focus on education when you are not paying lecturers at the two highest learning institutions?” he asked.

 

“You have closed the Copperbelt University indefinitely; you are not even talking about it…as if the Copperbelt University is an extension of your own bedroom, yet you are talking about education. Can you be consistent when we talk about governance issues…in one breath you are saying let’s focus on education and in the other breath you have closed the learning institution indefinitely as if it belongs to yourself.”

 

Kambwili said the universities were government institutions.

 

“The executive is only there to run the country on behalf of the people of Zambia, meaning therefore the Copperbelt University belongs to the people of Zambia. Why have you, Nkandu Luo and President Lungu, closed the Copperbelt University and stopped talking about it? Is it because abana benu basambilile kubulaya (is it because your children studied overseas)? Can you think of the children of the poor who also have a timeframe in which to complete their education,” he said.

 

Kambwili demanded the immediate reopening of CBU and the payment of lecturers at both universities.

 

On the livestock movement ban in Southern Province, Kambwili wondered how people in the region were expected to survive.

 

“Are you telling us that Southern Province is not part of Zambia? You know that there was a drought in Southern Province but you go and introduce animal movement ban, you are not allowing them to take their animals from Southern Province to go and sell in other parts of the country. How do you expect these people to take their children to school? How do you expect them to survive? You know that the Southerners only survive on agriculture, it’s either through the growing of maize or animal husbandry, but you go and impose a stock movement ban on the people that did not have good rains to have crops like maize, groundnuts and other crops grown through the agriculture sector. What kind of a government are you who don’t think?”

 

Kambwili also criticized President Lungu’s decision to attend the state funeral of veteran DRC opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in Kinsasha over the weekend accompanied by several government leaders.

 

Tshisekedi, 84, who died in Belgium in 2017, was the father of current President Felix Tshisekedi.

 

“All you think of is to go to Congo to go and mourn the father of the president who died two years ago…and you are insulting the people of Zambia as though we are so useless and can’t analyse issues,” said Kambwili.

 

“What has a provincial minister got to do with a funeral – three provincial ministers, two cabinet ministers…five ministers in total? When the President travels, he travels with a minimum of 30 security personnel. Under austerity measures you tell permanent secretaries not to move for 90 days but you go and lift a plane, taking 30 security personnel, you take five ministers to go and mourn a father of a president who died two years ago. Kwena Lesa Lungu wamufunishe kwii?”

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