Following the conviction of former Finance Minister and MMD National Secretary, Dr. Katele Kalumba and others, the champions of the so called fight against corruption, went into frenzy celebrations congratulating themselves for achieving a worthy cause.
Mutembo Nchito, the private prosecutor who has been at the centre of the cases until recently, received gallant praises in their editorials extolling his ‘’good virtues’’ and ‘’heroic exploits’’.
But this fight was skewed from the beginning. As it increasingly veered off course, it relied heavily upon propaganda, scandalisation of persons accused and rode on distorted facts.
At this stage and after spending an estimated USD40million, a noble fight with wide appeal and support, had shrunk to a small circle of friends that consisting of individuals that had designed and consequently profited from the 8 year long process.
Katele received a conviction for receiving 4000 British Pounds. The allegation is that he and others were paid gratifications to facilitate payments of USD20million to two American companies; System Innovations and Wilben Incorporated. The two companies were executing security contracts for the Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS).
This case evokes outrage about the nature and focus of prosecution as undertaken by the defunct Taskforce On Corruption While there was no attempt to pursue and recover from those that got USD20million, Zambians were treated to the comedy of chasing those that received crumbs- officially described as Commissions in the Western World.
At the centre of all these is the ZAMTROP (Zambia Trans Overseas for the Office of President) account. This was an operation account held at ZANACO London Branch. The account has existed since 1963. This account enjoyed special regulation. It was regulated by the 1970 Finance Charter.
COORUPTION ALLEGATIONS IN THE ZAMPTROP
In 2002 a junior OP officer leaked some statements on the ZAMTROP account. They were passed on to Edgar Ngoma of the famed Angoni Companies. Ngoma passed them onto his FDD colleague then, Dipak Patel.
The Post published some contents and Patel attempted to lay them on the table of Parliament. Of immediate interest were payments attributed to former President Frederick Chiluba’s children and associates which quickly raised alarm and a political storm.
The ZAMTROP was a funny document. It brought together unlikely of allies. New President, Levy Mwanawasa who was struggling to find his feet in the MMD and the country joined forces with strange personalities of questionable character. He had just come from a fractious election where he obtained a narrow mandate. He faced a hostile civil society and quiet disaffection in the MMD.
He was deeply unpopular! He needed a quick fix. And the ZAMTROP presented that fix.
Mwanawasa found new friends in Mark Chona, Mutembo Nchito, and The POST. There were bound together by their known hatred for Chiluba. Chona who styles himself as a diplomat went into “diplomatic” campaign to make Mwanawasa acceptable among the European Union (EU) and other Cooperating Partners.
But they also campaigned heavily for funds to help ‘’trace and recover plundered resources and prosecute Chiluba and his former officials” so that “it can serve as a deterrent measure to future government in Zambia and Africa.”
The ZAMTROP also formed the basis for lifting Chiluba’s constitutional immunity.
The common thread was that the ZAMTROP account symbolized the worst corruption scandal in Zambia and reflected Chiluba’s “corrupt ten year regime”.
THE ZAMTROP ACCOUNT- A SCANDAL OR AN OBJECT OF PROPAGANDA
The corruption allegations against Chiluba and his former officials are focused on the period 1995 to 2001.
Audits covering this period have been done on this account to establish the sources of funds and trace the expenses. The Audits were done by Bank of Zambia, Price Water House (2003) and Grant Thornton (UK) (2006).
During this period the account received a total of USD53million.
This represented USD43million which came from the Ministry of Finance and about USD9million that came from private sources.
The bulk of the funds of about USD20million went to System Innovations and Wilben Incorporated who were executing security contracts to install surveillance and security installations at Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defense, State House, Supreme Court, and at the International Airport.
System Innovations is still maintaining some of these installations.
Over USD17million went to ZSIS known operations and activities.
Also an incontrovertible fact has emerged. The account had personal and private funds totaling USD8.5m for former President Chiluba. The sources of these funds are listed and in the words of Chiluba came from ‘’friends, well wishers and sympathizers” of his administration and the MMD party. Chiluba says the bulk of these funds were earmarked for his institute that he planned to set up for Democracy and Industrial Studies.
Despite the facts established by the Audits, to the crusaders of this fight, Chiluba ‘’stole’’ USD41million! They even took an action in London High court and obtained a Judgment against Chiluba claiming that he and other officials should pay back USD41million to the Zambian government!
Although for example, it is not in dispute that USD20million was paid to contracted companies Systems Innovations and Wilben, to his enemies Chiluba should pay back this money for breaching “fiduciary duties’’!
And although another USD17million went to known ZSIS activities, they want Chiluba to pay back this money.
And they have Judgment to show for it.
Katele’s conviction appears to be icing on their cake.
THE ZAMTROP- A DOCUMENT TO PUNISH OR BLACKMAIL WITH?
This document has been used as a whip against political opponents and as a blackmailing tool to whip in line those that went off course.
The listed recipients of some funds from this account were many. Some did legitimate work for the OP. But this decision on who to prosecute, was left not to the OP to determine, but to the Prosecutor.
He decided who should be prosecuted or not.
Strange that the prosecutor and not the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) was to make those decisions.
When the DPP tried to assert his authority he was hounded out office. Mukelebai died a sad and mysterious death in South Africa after that.
The current DPP, Chalwe Mchenga has not been spared the harassment and insults for merely doing his job assigned to him by the Constitution and refusing to balk to their pressure and agenda.
Mchenga and others now can work freely away from the clutches of this evil force following the change of government. President Rupiah Banda has abandoned this clique thereby freeing many officials from this clique.
But there still remains some remnants.
INVESTIGATIONS, PROSECUTION AND CONVICTIONS
The outcome on Wednesday 26th May 2010 was a culmination of a well designed, well crafted and well prosecuted program.
The man who helped hound out a legitimate DPP and calls himself player number 11, yet again scored.
They decided who should be investigated and prosecuted.
They handpicked Magistrates to hear their packaged cases.
They went into an illegal agreement (popularly known as the MOU) between themselves and donors for provision of funds and prosecution of the cases. This document was signed not by the Attorney General as required by the law but by themselves.
Despite protestation from the Attorney General, they commenced a process in the London High Court against Chiluba and others in his name. they paid themselves and obtained a default Judgment which they now use as a centre piece achievement against Corruption!
The process was cleverly executed with witty intelligence, raw propaganda, appointed investigators, prosecutors and Magistrates and constant threats of arrests.
And surprisingly they were quick to congratulate themselves every time they obtained a conviction, the very expected result of a program they had sewed together.
Former defense chiefs were hauled before civilian courts despite the clear directives from the DPP that they should be taken and prosecuted by a Court Marshall. The former service chiefs were convicted before the same appointed Magistrates.
There were a few birds that slipped past the cage and isolated acquittals occurred. Former speaker of the National Assembly, Mwelwa Chibesakunda, Richard Sakala (escaping a second conviction) and former president Frederick Chiluba were acquitted.
The investigations and prosecution were aimed at showing that Chiluba’s legacy was “corrupt”, accused persons ranged from the Military, to Parliament, from the Judiciary to Ministries and State House.
Senior Chief Puta of the Bwile People and “custodian” of their famous son Katele Kalumba has publicly claimed that Katele fell foul with conspirators in the MMD.
The allegation is that supporters of a defiant agenda in the MMD led by a clique associated to Maureen Mwanawasa blackmailed Katele not to expel former defense and Finance ministers George Mpombo and Ngandu Magande in return for an acquittal on a matter before “their magistrate”.
The ‘’deal” was working as Katele in his position as National Secretary thwarted plot after plot to expel the duo. To this extent he risked and staked his political career even choosing to defy President Rupiah Banda and party officials who were keen to see that Mpombo and Magande were punished for their wanton attacks on Banda.
But a few days before his Judgment, Katele issued a statement in Eastern Province at which he declared that President Rupiah Banda would be the sole candidate of the MMD and that Magande and Mpombo were mere dreamers.
According to Chief Puta, It is therefore not strange that Katele received a conviction as his remarks in Eastern Province appeared to renege on his earlier agreements with those he promised to protect.
Chief Puta further alleges that these forces in fact want ‘’to kill Katele” or obliterate his political career.
The so called Fight against Corruption was used to fight political opponents, settle longstanding personal feuds and the judicial system was used and abused to play out the drama.
After over USD40million spent on the fight by both Cooperating Partners and the Zambian Government, there is concerted effort to atone for and justify the huge expenditure by pushing the registration of the London Judgment to justify the huge cost.
Zambia remains with poor mechanisms to stem and prevent corruption. It’s only now that President Rupiah Banda has launched an Anti-Corruption Policy that will systematically fight the scourge and help strengthen institutions on the front line.
To portray that Chiluba’s government was clean would be to delude oneself. But to use illegal and subterfuge methods to fight the corruption allegations against his administration as was done is worse than the allegations. How can you fight illegality using illegal methods?
Some of the worst corruption cases occurred during the administration of President Mwanawasa which they conveniently ignored. Zambia is yet to pay USD100million to Amalgamated Bank of South Africa for a corrupt and botched oil deal occasioned by him Mwanawasa. There are other credible allegations in maize, oil and road contracts that Mwanawasa was associated with but were never pursued.
The biggest let down to this process have been selected members of civil society that helped focus on the fight against individuals than fight corruption. In fact, despite the publicity and huge resources poured into this crusade, there is nothing to show for it.
As usual a sustained campaign is underway claiming that President Rupiah Banda has reversed the fight against corruption because he is associating himself with former president Frederick Chiluba. This is understandable as their focus has always been to fight Chiluba since the time of his third term bid and never to wage a fight against corruption.. It is a tool they have used to leverage political power.