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ACC arrests two former government officials over irregularities in the procurement of a building at over US$5 million

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THE Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has arrested former Ministry of Housing and infrastructure Development Permanent Secretary Charles Mushota and former Chief Procurement and Supplies Officer at the same Ministry Dorothy Katongo over irregularities in the procurement of a building at over US$5 million.

ACC chief corporate affairs officer Timothy Moono has told Mwebantu in a statement that Mr Mushota and Ms Katongo have been charged with five counts of Willful Failure to Comply with applicable law and three counts of giving false Information to a Public Officer

He said it is that Mushota and Katongo, while serving in their respective capacities at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, willfully failed to comply with the law and applicable procurement procedures and guidelines in the procurement of Stand No. 237 United Nations Avenue, Longacres, now  known as Infrastructure House, which was procured by Government through the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development at US$5.35 million from a company called Zamworth Construction.

He said the duo allegedly facilitated the procurement of the building without clearance from the Government Valuation Department and failed to ensure that adequate funds were available prior to initiating the procurement process.

“In addition, the duo did not establish an Evaluation Committee to evaluate the bid submitted by Zamworth as prescribed in Regulation 114 (a) of the Public Procurement Regulations of 2011, and that they further inserted a clause prohibited by law in the contract, stating that a compounded interest of 5% per month would be charged to the Ministry for any unpaid balance. This clause was neither subjected to negotiation with Zamworth nor was it authorized by the Ministerial Procurement Committee,” he said.

Mr Moono said Mr Mushota and Ms Katongo have been charged for giving false information to a public officer on three occasions.

“Firstly, when he authored a letter to the Secretary to the Treasury stating that the Ministry on 4th November 2016 had engaged Government Valuation Department to value the named property when he in fact only requested it on 18th November 2016; secondly, when he authored a letter on 3rd January 2017 to the DirectorGeneral, Zambia Public Procurement Authority, stating that the Ministry of Finance had confirmed availability of the funds, when the Ministry of Finance only got to confirm the availability of funds on 27th March 2017.

In the third instance, Mr Mushota is alleged to have, authored a letter to the Secretary to the Treasury on 10th January 2017, stating that the Government Valuation Department had cleared the said property for purchase when in fact the Acting Permanent Secretary Works and Supply had requested for a final valuation to be conducted on the whole building before it could give its final advice,” he said

Mr Moono said Mr Mushota and Ms Katongo have been released on Bond and will appear in court soon,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Friday, 14th October, 2022)

Politics

Government to sink boreholes across the country

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“WITH the current devastating climate change, the government is going flat out to sink boreholes and do crop irrigation across the country”, President Hakainde Hichilema has said.

The President said his administration is determined to ensure food security despite the challenging circumstances.
“We are determined to ensure that food security is attained even during these difficult times. Let us all get involved and get it solved. We shall overcome as God will do the rest,” he said.

President Hichilema urged citizens to actively participate in the efforts, stating the collective responsibility to overcome the challenges emanating from the dry spell.

Last week, President Hichilema declared the ongoing drought a national disaster, announcing a comprehensive set of measures to mitigate its impact.

The declaration was prompted by the destruction of one million hectares of farmland, affecting over one million households across the country.

(Mwebantu, Monday, 4th March, 2024)

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‘Why are you pretending to be rich?’ HH asks Gov’t officials who insist on traveling on business class

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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has described government officials that prefer traveling on business class as cheats and pretenders.

The head of state has revealed that the country has limited resources and it does not make sense for a government official to move in business class at the expense of the treasury.

The president said following the declaration of a national disaster as a result of the prolonged dry spells, that there will be for prudent usage of resources.

“We will aggressively shift resources from consumption, wastage travel, and business class. Secretary to the treasury, I hear there are people who want to travel business class from Lusaka to Johannesburg?” he said, “for one hour 30 minutes [you want to be on business class], we sit on our stools for three hour we village people,”

He wondered what is wrong with a government official travelling on economy class.

What’s wrong with economy ticket for one hour 40 minutes, this is what I call pretence, for one hour 40 minutes you want to fell rich, that’s cheating,” the President said.

He said he has already given his cabinet the signal that there will be no more unnecessary travels.

“There will be no more of such things, including unnecessary travels, size of delegation, I sent this signal to my colleagues in cabinet and I have made this official, resources are limited, the question is how do we utlise the limited resources,” Mr Hichilema said.

Meanwhile, he warned that there will be accountability in the utilization of resources and those found wanting “Will be on their own”

(Mwebantu, Monday, 4th March, 2024)

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House of Chiefs commends President Hichilema’s swift response to drought crisis.

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TRADITIONAL leaders have commended President Hakainde Hichilema’s decisive action in addressing the drought.

House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Chisunka said the President’s declaration is a timely and crucial step in mobilising resources and support to mitigate the impact of this drought on the affected communities.

Dr Chisunka said the effects of climate change, particularly the prolonged dry spells and erratic rainfall patterns, have posed unprecedented challenges to agricultural systems, water sources, and, most importantly, the livelihoods of people.

He underscored the urgent need for collaborative efforts to mitigate the challenges posed by climate change.

Dr Chisunka said the traditional leadership is committed to supporting the government and ensuring coordinated relief efforts.

“As traditional leaders, we commend President Hakainde Hichilema for his swift and decisive action in recognizing the gravity of the situation and marking our country’s debilitating drought as a national disaster and emergency. Together, we can overcome this crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient than before. We will continue to work together to build a better and brighter future for all our people,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Sunday, 3rd March, 2024)

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