INCARCERATED former community development and social services minister Emerine Kabanshi has applied for bail pending appeal to the High Court against her two-year jail term.
On May 28, 2021, Kabanshi was convicted and sentenced to two years simple imprisonment by the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court on two charges of willful failure to comply with the law, applicable procedure or guidelines relating to procurement for the social cash transfer programme.
Lusaka chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale said the circumstances under which the offences were committed were aggravating, particularly where the convict uncompromisingly insisted on re-engaging Zampost when it was clear that the vulnerable people who were the intended beneficiaries of the programme were not receiving the funds.
He ruled that what was further aggravating was that Kabanshi’s conduct in advancing her enterprise had some technocrats in the ministry retired in national interest when they meant well to the ministry.
Magistrate Mwale said day-to-day and supervisory functions of the ministry were the responsibility of the permanent secretary who was the controlling officer, however, ministers were constitutionally responsible and answerable to the President for the overall supervision, administration and management of the ministry.
He said the convict’s orders to reinstate Zampost’s contract were to be carried out immediately.
The court said even if one argues that the directives were to be carried in compliance with the law, there was no time for technocrats to follow the law and applicable procedure.
Kabanshi in her notice to appeal, said she intends to challenge her conviction and sentencing on three grounds of appeal and would lodge in other grounds upon perusal of the judgment.
According to her grounds of appeal, Kabanshi said magistrate Mwale erred in law and fact when he found that her office was tasked with the management and administration of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.
She said the trial court erred in law and fact when it found her guilty in both counts against the weight of evidence on record.
Kabanshi further stated that magistrate Mwale erred in law and fact when he found that she willfully failed to comply with the law and applicable procedure or guidelines relating to procurement by extending the scope of coverage between Zampost and the ministry to include the provinces and two districts on the social cash transfer programme and re-engaging Zampost as the payment service provider for the social cash transfer programme after the contract was terminated.
And in an affidavit in support of summons for bail pending appeal, Kabanshi said she was dissatisfied with magistrate Mwale’s judgment and she intends to appeal to the High Court against her conviction and sentence.
She said her appeal had very high prospects of success and raises issues of public importance relating to the role of the minister in the current Constitution which ground was not yet touched by the court.
“I am desirous to attend to my appeal and to prosecute the same,” Kabanshi said. “Given the sentence that has been imposed, it is likely that I may serve a substantial part of the said sentence before my appeal is heard if I am not admitted to bail pending appeal.”
The convict said during trial, she was on bail and was compliant with the conditions set by the court.
Kabanshi said she was able to provide credible working sureties and to abide by any other conditions that the court might set in granting her bail pending appeal.
“My appeal in the High Court is meritorious with high prospects of success and my continued stay in prison may prejudice me to my detriment. This court has the competent jurisdiction to grant me bail pending appeal,” said Kabanshi.
Hearing of the bail application has been slated for June 3, 2021.