The International Monetary Fund has just granted debt relief to 25 poor countries to help them free up funds to fight the coronavirus pandemic. “This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.
But Zambia, which has been crying to the IMF since 2015 for a debt relief, has been side-lined again.
Zambia meets all the criteria of a poor country and certainly is affected directly and indirectly (economy wise) by the Coronavirus. But why has it been left out?
Its due to corruption, insiders have just explained.
According to insiders, the IMF is dismayed that nothing has been done about ministers that have been mentioned in 2017 and 2018 Financial Intelligence Centre dirty money report.
The IMF is also not happy that nothing is being done to culprits that are mentioned every year in the auditor General ‘s report as having stolen public resources.
The countries are nearly all in Africa, but Afghanistan, Yemen, Nepal and Haiti are also on the list.
One clear example that has cost Zambia huge financial resources and international credibility involves minister of health Chitalu Chilufya. Misnister Chilufya is currently being instigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for corruption. The Covid-19 pandemic is good for him as it kind of diverts attention from his crimes.
In case you didn’t know, Chitalu Chilufya is the culprit that was mentioned in the 2018 Financial Intelligence Centre dirty money report as having been bribed with 49 residential houses.
Other people mentioned include minister Ronald Chitotela, ministry of labour permanent Secretary Chanda Banabi, transport and communication permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu, minister Dora Siliya and many others.
In one of the case studies which the FIC released to the public but with the names of culprits withheld, it said that :
“PEP N influenced the awarding of contracts to foreign construction companies and in return, these companies constructed 49 residential properties for him valued at ZMW 70 million. They further purchased two luxury vehicles for him valued at ZMW 4 million.’
Note that the Financial Intelligence Centre uses abbreviation PEP which stands for politically exposed person. A PEP is a person entrusted with a prominent public function, job, responsibility. Usually these are government officials or influential politicians.
One of the companies that built minister of health Chitalu Chilufya some of the 49 houses mentioned in FIC report 2018 is China Civil. Chilufya and his permanent secretary have been getting bribes from foreign companies working on projects such as the project to upgrade clinics into first level hospitals.
The ministry of health gets funding from a lot of Governments such as Turkey , Norway, ISRAEL, USA, UK, Japan and China but what matters is how they roll out the projects and accommodate their funds.
For example, one project to upgrade clinics is funded by japan and the other one is funded by Exim bank of China which also includes the construction of 650 health posts across the country and upgrading existing ones into first levels. This is where minister Chilufya makes his money from . He decides who does what but on a huge fee.
Minister Chilufya has also amassed huge wealthy by over pricing the procurement of ambulances and procurement of medicine for hospitals.
On the overpriced ambulances, minister Chilufya received huge kickbacks from Iveco South Africa to supply 50 ambulances to the Ministry of Health. Chilufya made government pay US$288,000 for each ambulance when the same could have been bought at 20 times cheaper from a reasonable supplier.
Note that this is the same contract that was first given to Savenda management, but minister Chilufya and his girlfriend PS supplanted it with the one from Iveco which gave them money.
According to government sources, in 2015, the ministry wanted to single source Iveco to supply 50 ambulances.
The ministry wrote to the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) requesting authorisation to single source Iveco. ZPPA refused but instead advised the ministry to follow the law and issue a public tender. The ministry which had already told Iveco to start manufacturing the ambulances was at a dilemma. Chitalu Chilufya, who was at that time deputy minister advised his colleagues to come up with bid conditions and specifications that favour Iveco. Despite this, 13 local and International companies submitted bids. Some bidders noticed that the conditions were designed to favour Iveco, so they complained. The ministry issued two addendums (additions) correcting the conditions and specifications that were in favour of Iveco.
Iveco failed at the first round of the bidding process. Savenda won the tender beating the 12 others since it met all the bid conditions and specifications.
Then, the minister of health Dr Joseph Kasonde died and cabinet was dissolved as elections were just around the corner. After elections, Chitalu Chilufya was one of the first four cabinet ministers to be appointed. He went to work. After frequenting Iveco offices in South Africa and receiving kickbacks, he fired or transferred to other ministries all procurement officers in the ministry of health. He made sure that no money was paid to the contract between Savenda and the ministry.
He promoted his girlfriend Kaku by putting her in charge of planning and infrastructure. Then he told late permanent secretary John Moyo to sign another contract with Iveco to supply 50 ambulances. Two weeks after signing this contract, PS John Moyo was killed in a road crash. It is believed that there was foul play in this accident.
The Iveco tender did not go through the legally required procurement bid and was signed when there was already another contract on the same products and same amount.
To try and hide the corruption, Chilufya invited four other companies to a meeting while he knew that he had already contracted Iveco.
Watchdog sources says Before becoming Minister , he only had a small lodge in Mansa, ‘but right now Chitala can even accommodate the entire cabinet from the property he has amassed from stealing Cholera donation money, overpriced ambulances and Mini hospitals.’
We will continue reminding Minister Chitalu Chilufya that the day to account is coming, even if it look far; it is coming.