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ACC interrogates former Housing and Infrastructure Permanent Secretary in the US$5 million procurement scandal

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THE Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has recorded a warn and caution statement from former Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development Permanent Secretary Charles

Mushota and former Chief Procurement and Supplies Officer Dorothy Katongo over irregularities in the procurement of a building at over US$5 million.

In a statement, ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono said while serving in their respective capacities at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Mr Mushota and Ms Katongo are alleged to have wilfully failed to comply with the law.

He said the duo further failed to comply with 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$5.35million from a company called Zamworth Construction.

Mr Moono said it is also alleged that the two 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 contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act No. 12 of 2008.

“Further, allegations are that 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,” he said.

Mr Moono said the clause was neither subjected to negotiation with Zamworth nor was it authorized by the Ministerial Procurement Committee.

He said Mr Mushota was in addition warned and cautioned in relation to allegations that he gave 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 3rdJanuary 2017 to the Director-General, 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,” he said.

He said 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.

Mr Moono said investigations into this matter are on-going.

(Mwebantu, Tuesday, August 30th, 2022)

Politics

Sakwiba lied about UKA finger print procession, police say

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POLICE in Lusaka have dispelled allegations by United Liberal Party leader ,Sakwiba Sikota that he submitted finger print forms for the procession of opposition movement, United Kwacha Alliance (UKA).

Mr Sikota is believed to have given the misinformation when he appeared on the Red Hot Breakfast show on Tuesday, February 27th, 2024.

Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga has however, said procession of finger prints for UKA were incomplete.

“The Zambia Police Service wishes to address recent misinformation that was aired on the Red Hot Breakfast Show yesterday February 27, 2024 , alleging that Mr Sakwiba Sikota had submitted fingerprint forms for the procession as part of the registration process for the United Kwacha Alliance at the Zambia Police Service Headquarters.”

“The facts surrounding this matter are as follows: Today (yesterday), February 28, 2024, at 16:10 hours, Mr Sakwiba Sikota, accompanied by Mr Silawve, presented incomplete forms required for the partial fulfillment of the registration process. Contrary to the information aired, the fingerprint forms were not handed in on an earlier date, as suggested,” he said.

Mr Hamoonga said upon examination of the presented forms, it was determined that they were incomplete.

He said as per the established procedures, Mr Sikota and colleague were advised to rectify the deficiencies and resubmit the correct and complete documentation.

“We would like to emphasize the importance of truthfulness and accuracy in communication, particularly when it involves matters of national interest. It is crucial for eminent personalities like Mr. Sakwiba Sikota to be truthful and the media to verify information with the concerned authorities before disseminating it to the public,” he said.

Mr Hamoonga reiterated the call by police for responsible reporting and communication, urging individuals and media outlets to adhere to the principles of accuracy and verification.

He added that the dissemination of falsehoods on matters of national importance may result in legal consequences, including prosecution against those found to be in violation.

(Mwebantu, Thursday, 29th February, 2024)

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Local Courts

State opposes lawsuit to compensate minister, PS for malicious prosecution.

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THE State has opposed the lawsuit filed by Minister of Small Medium Enterprises Minister Elias Mubanga, Permanent Secretary for special duties Patrick Mucheleka and others who are seeking damages for malicious.

The State has argued that Mr Mucheleka and others are not entitled to the reliefs they are seeking because their detention was not malicious.

It adds that there was reasonable cause why they were arrested.

The other plaintiffs are UPND national youth secretary Samuel Ngwira, Chinyimba Bwalya and Kelvin Bwalya.

The five sued the State seeking among other reliefs, damages for false imprisonment.

In their statement of claim, Mr Mucheleka and others submitted that they were apprehended and arrested without reasonable cause by the Zambia Police Service for 31 days.

The added that they were arrested from September 13, 2020 to October 3, 2020 at Kasama Police Station on aggravated robbery and malicious damage to property charges.

Further, Mr Mucheleka and others submitted that during trial, the State set them free through a nolle prosequi.

But the plaintiffs now want to be compensated for mental distress, mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience and embarrassment among other reliefs.

However, in reply to the lawsuit, the State submits that it will submit that there was reasonable cause for the plaintiffs’ arrest and detention and that they therefore, the reliefs they seek should not be granted.

It adds that on September 13,2020, the the police received a report of aggravated robbery from the District Registration Officer to the effect that members of UPND attacked and robbed the mobile registration office and damaged property there, and fled immediately after committing the said offence.

The State will further state at trial that with the assistance of eye witnesses, police instituted investigations and recovered a generator at a house in Chilamba village which led to the detention and arrest of the plaintiffs.

It adds that the State will aver that the plaintiffs were lawfully detained and arrested.

During their detention, the plaintiffs were allowed to be visited by several of their party members as well as their lawyers.

The State will aver that police action was conducted within the law and that there was no malice in their detention and arrest.

(Mwebantu, Wednesday, 28th February, 2024)

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Politics

Police scrutinising statement made by Former President Edgar Lungu.

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POLICE say they are carefully examining scrutinising a statement made by Former President Edgar Lungu.

Yesterday, Former president Edgar Lungu said President Hakainde Hichilema may be forced to give up sooner rather than later as Zambians will rise against him if police continue to behave in uncivil manner.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, February 27, police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said the implications of such a statement is being assessed, and appropriate legal actions may be taken.

“The statement made by the Former Head of State, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, indicating that “People will rise,” is under careful scrutiny. The implications of such a statement is being assessed, and appropriate legal actions may be taken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Hamoonga said a police station is a protected place by law, and any misconduct within its premises will not be tolerated.

This is in response to yesterday happenings in which four Patriotic Front members were detained for disorderly conduct.

“The actions taken by Kabwata police were in accordance with the law. Mr Raphael Nakachinda was released after due process, while those unlawfully camping at Kabwata were rightfully arrested. Notably, the arrest of Mr Emmanuel Mwamba and three others was executed lawfully,” he said.

Mr Hamoonga said police managed to confiscate three drums used by the alleged unruly crowd, which will serve as crucial evidence.

He said a police station is not a playground for disorderly conduct, and individuals engaging in illegal activities within its confines are liable to be arrested.

“We reiterate the importance of respecting the law and maintaining order, emphasizing that a police station is not a venue for disruptive behavior. The police are committed to upholding the law and ensuring the safety and security of all citizens,” Mr Hamoonga said.

(Mwebantu, Wednesday, 28th February, 2024)

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