Local Government and Housing Minister Benny Tetamashimba has reported his predecessor Sylvia Masebo to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the auditor general concerning the purchase of hears es from China.
According to the Times of Zambia, Mr Temashimba said in an interview yesterday that he had directed his permanent secretary, Coillard Chibbonta, to report the matter to the ACC and the auditor general’s office for investigations.
He said that as minister, he had his own suspicions because a single hearse could not cost US$29,000 and that was the reason he directed the permanent secretary to report anybody who was suspected to have benefitted from the transaction.
“I believe that there were irregularities in the transaction and if it is proved that the price of the hearses was not inflated and that the terms of conditions were adhered to, I will resign as minister on principle,” he said.
Spokesperson for the auditor-general’s office, Ellen Chikale said she was not aware of the report and efforts to get a comment from Ms Masebo failed as she was reported to be in a meeting while Mr Chibbonta refused to comment.
Mr Tetamashimba said he told Mr Chibbonta to report the matter to the ACC and the office of the auditor general last Friday but that he was disappointed that both institutions had not been to the ministry.
The minister said that he had put his head on the “chopping board” and would write President Rupiah Banda to say he had failed him if it was proved that there was nothing wrong in the purchase of the hearses.
He said it was surprising that the same hearses had not been taken to the ministry and the person contracted to deliver them had not been to the ministry to explain anything on the matter.
He also said he had denied Ms Masebo more documents involving the matter because she went to the ministry with journalists and addressed them within the premises.
He explained that Ms Masebo had earlier asked for permission from President Banda so that she could give her side of the story, which to him proved that she knew something.
He said that Mr Banda made it clear that the former minister was free to discuss the hearses because they did not go through Cabinet for her to ask for permission to release any information.
Mr Tetamashimba said on Thursday last week, Ms Masebo went to the ministry where Mr Chibbonta gave her documents related to the hearses and she later addressed journalists.
He said Ms Masebo thereafter talked to him on the phone and asked to meet him. When she went to his office, she asked for letters she had received from late president Levy Mwanawasa between 2007 and 2008.
He said he told her that he could not avail her the letters because they were from State House and needed clearance.
She further asked for some letters exchanged between Mr Tetamashimba and Mr Chibbonta which were also not availed to her.
The minister said he was shocked that when he left, Ms Masebo went back to his personal assistant to ask for letters from president Mwanawasa but that they could not be traced.
He said it was at this point that he asked Mr Chibbonta not to give any more documents to Ms Masebo and that he should report her to the ACC and auditor general.