A deepening scandal where a Chinese company Tianrei was used to steal over K18,000,000 (K18 billion in non rebased currency) which was later diverted to President Edgar Lungu’s campaigns has been exposed. And according to the document obtained by the Watchdog, Zambia army is in a debt crisis of over K800m which also includes foreign currency bills.
According to the plan, Tianrei was contracted to supply 15,000 combat uniforms and 7,500 combat boots and the money was secured but the Chinese supplier did not deliver the items. The money was given to the company’s representatives but was later wired back to PF after the company got its commission for the theft.
Then defence minister and UPND Sinazongwe rebel MP Ritchwel Siamunene was used to expedite this deal (at the height of the campaigns, the Watchdog earlier reported that Siamunene was appointed defence minister so that he could be used to steal money for PF) and personally travelled to China together with 2nd infantry brigade commander Brigadier General Martin Banda.
A source from the Zambia army Ordinance directorate has disclosed that Tinarei was also promised that if they facilitated this transaction, they would further be given a contract to supply uniforms for other defence wings, Zambia Air Force – ZAF and Zambia National Service – ZNS if PF wins the elections.
Meanwhile information availed to the Watchdog from the defence ministry quarterly report yet to be presented to Lungu reveals that the army owes some local suppliers and through Units a total of K291,776,451.54.
“There are still outstanding local and overseas bills as indicated below: 1. OPS – K259,732.31, 2. CIT branch – K9,730,905.78, 3. AMS branch – K1,985,290.17, 4. Ordinance – K154,721,952.85, 5. Transport – K33,133,132.17, 6. ZEME – K1,374,177.63, 7. Water bills – K24,022,176.97, 8. Zesco electricity bills – K57,548,133.65, Grand total – K291,776,451.54. Overseas: Dollars – 11,295,131.38, Euro – 351,504.38, GBP – 14,190.15, Rand – 16,578.42,” reads an extract of the report on page 24 and accessed from defence minister Davies Chama’s office.
But some officers in the finance directorate have said that some of the debts in foreign currency were mainly accrued by PF officials and their families in form of lodges and other services but billed to the army.