Calls mount for Florence Mumba to resign

PRESSURE is mounting on Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Florence Mumba to resign and pave way for investigations following allegations that she is involved in a procurement scandal.

And the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has received a formal complaint from concerned organisations and citizens on allegations levelled against the ECZ chairperson.

ACC corporate affairs officer Wezi Chomba, who confirmed the development in an interview in Lusaka on January 26, could not immediately give details.

Armed paramilitary police officers yesterday sealed the ECZ headquarters as the strike entered the third day. Workers at the commission have vowed not to work until Ms Justice Mumba resigns or is relieved of her duties.

A check at Elections House found paramilitary police officers manning the gate while the protesting workers, who were clad in black, gathered outside the premises awaiting Vice-President George Kunda’s response on the impasse.

Police sealed off the premises of the ECZ head office in Lusaka as the countrywide sit-in entered its third day with no respite in sight.

Former Patriotic Front general secretary Edward Mumbi yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Ms Justice Mumba, saying her continued stay at the commission can injure the electoral process and create disputes between political parties.

Former ECZ director Dan Kalale recently accused Ms Justice Mumba of awarding a contract to a private audit firm, KPMG, to undertake consultancy services on the confidential audits system review covering 2008 and 2009 at a cost of K1 billion without going through the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA).

Mr Mumbi said in an interview in Lusaka on January 26 that Ms Justice Mumba’s position at ECZ has become precarious and she is now in a “zero option” situation.

He said Ms Justice Mumba has allegedly abused her office, which has left her with no choice but to resign or go on sabbatical leave while investigations are going on.

“What Mr Kalale has revealed is worrying, considering that the ECZ has been a model of electoral commissions in Africa because of the manner in which it has been managed. Ms Justice Mumba is the first to have had her credibility doubted. All her predecessors have left the ECZ without problems,” he said.

He said the alleged scandal means that all is not well at ECZ.

Mr Mumbi said politicians and chief executives of public institutions should learn to humble themselves and resign when their conduct is called into question.

He said Mr Kalale’s statement was confirmed by the Auditor-General’s Office, which stated that Ms Mumba contravened tender provisions by awarding KPMG a consultancy contract.

“This is an election year and Zambians cannot afford to risk the integrity of the ECZ by having Ms Justice Mumba at the helm of the commission,” Mr Mumbi said.

He said as a Supreme Court judge, Ms Mumba knew that it was a serious omission on her part to have allegedly ignored procurement procedures.

The Office of the Auditor-General has said the ECZ had a K300 million threshold for contracts, but Ms Mumba is alleged to have overshot by K700 million.

Mr Mumbi said Justice Mumba’s continued stay in office while investigations are going on is causing concern to the public.

“If the PF is going to win the Mporokoso parliamentary by-election, the MMD will say Ms Justice Mumba has been responsible for their loss. If the MMD is going to win, the PF will claim the same against her. So, let her prevent political anarchy by resigning,” Mr Mumbi said.

He said some Zambians are suspicious that Ms Justice Mumba is being used by some greedy people to cause political disorder.

Meanwhile, MARGARET SAMULELA reports that the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has urged relevant Government agencies to investigate revelations of alleged corruption and intimidation of workers at the ECZ.

ZCTU public relations and international affairs director Martin Chembe said there is need for a thorough investigation into recent developments at the commission to restore confidence among citizens.

“The Auditor-General’s Office has confirmed alleged corrupt activities at ECZ and we do not expect Government to gloss over this serious issue, given the strategic nature of the ECZ,” Mr Chembe said in a statement in Lusaka on January 25.

And KANYANTA KATONGO reports that Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province has urged President Banda to intervene in the problems that have rocked the ECZ.

The traditional leader has also advised political parties to base their campaigns on what they have achieved and what they will do for Zambians.

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