THE University of Zambia Lecturers’ and Researchers’ Union has maintained that the East Park Mall deal with UNZA stinks of corruption. Following the revelations by UNZALARU president Dr Evans Lampi that East Park Mall paid US$3 million for extra land, UNZA acting registrar Rodgers Phiri said the statement was unfortunate, misleading and not factual.
Phiri said “no land had been given away in exchange for any consideration.
“The University of Zambia management would like to place in correct perspective a recent media statement in a named private newspaper [The Mast] captioned as ‘East Park Mall paid US$3 million for extra land’. This publication follows an interview with the president of the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU). The University of Zambia wishes to inform the public that the statement issued is unfortunate, misleading and not factual. The University of Zambia management hereby clarifies that no land has been given away in exchange for any consideration,” Phiri said.
He said the East Park Mall was predominantly a University of Zambia undertaking under a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Phiri assured the public that East Park Mall was sitting on the University of Zambia land and no part of it had been sold. He said prior to the expiration of the lease period, the University of Zambia was entitled to a per cent of the gross revenue per month arising from occupancy of the various outlets at the mall.
“All the land on which East Park Mall is sitting is on a lease and the agreement is that when the lease period expires, the mall will be transferred in full to the University of Zambia. Prior to the expiration of the lease period, the University of Zambia is entitled to a percent of the gross revenue per month arising from occupancy of the various outlets at the mall. Thus, a part of the said revenue was paid upfront amounting to US$3 million so that the university could undertake projects and income generating activities to expand its opportunities for sustainability.”
Phiri further stated that the US$3 million was used to purchase a state-of-the-art industrial and commercial printer which has since been commissioned and was fully functional as a commercial business venture open to the public. He also stated that the money was also used for construction of two modern lecture theatres with a sitting capacity of 300 – 350 students, among other things.
“The two lecture theatres are currently under construction and will be completed in July 2020. These two initiatives are among the many interventions aimed at enhancing UNZA’s internal revenue generation capacity. As a public university, the University of Zambia procurement processes are guided by the provisions of the Public Procurement Act of 2008,” Phiri said.
He added that the university enjoyed an autonomous and transparent decision support system based on committees leading to council approval.
“Besides, the University of Zambia always seeks to adhere to best practices in corporate governance. To this effect, the university enjoys an autonomous and transparent decision support system based on committees leading to council approval. The university’s operational performance is followed through by regular external audits and its auditors’ assurance. The University of Zambia wishes to thank its cooperating partners and all its stakeholders for standing with the institution and assures the nation that the University of Zambia remains committed to advancing the public interest through education, research and community engagement,” said Phiri.
Responding to the University of Zambia Management’s dismissal of the US$3 million report, UNZALARU secretary general Dr Kelvin Mambwe questioned why the deal was not in public domain prior to the revelations.
Dr Mambwe said the intimidation of Dr Lampi by management was unfortunate and regrettable. He said Dr Lampi spoke in his capacity as a union leader and on a matter that was of interest not only to the union but the general public.
“The threats on our president are unfortunate but the East Park Mall deal smells of corruption, it stinks. Management should answer why the deal was not publicised earlier. This matter is in public interest, UNZA is a public institution and as a union, UNZALARU is interested in the matter,” Dr Mambwe said.
He challenged UNZA management to state whether the lease was not increased from 25 to 50 years and what was contained in the agreement following the change of lease tenure.