How corruption-free was Mwanawasa's rule?

Staff Writer
NDOLA: The late Local Government and Housing Minister Ben Tetamashimba startled the nation early this year with claims that there was rampant corruption during the reign of Zambia's third president, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.

To many people in the region and beyond, Mwanawasa had come to rid Zambia of corrupt practices especially those perceived to have happened during the reign of his predecessor Frederick Chiluba; so the nation was shaken by the statement from outspoken Tetamashimba.

The controversial minister even went to the extent of saying that he did not regret having issued the statement that there was corruption in Mwanawasa's government.

Tetamashimba served as deputy minister of local government and housing in president Mwanawasa's government but was elevated to full minister in the same ministry by President Rupiah Banda.

President Mwanawasa's son, Patrick, was later quoted by the Post newspaper as saying some government leaders only used the Mwanawasa name when it suited them.

But Tetamashimba issued a statement in which he said that the "mother of corruption" would soon be exposed. Tetamashimba died recently after a short illness.

However, a report, which some see as providing a peep into the Mwanawasa cupboard, was recently published in the state-owned Times of Zambia questioning the operations of the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI), which was led by the former first lady, Maureen Mwanawasa.

The report questioned why K 700 million government funding was channelled to the MMCI when it was registered as a private entity.

The same report claimed that late president Mwanawasa benefited from US $ 100 million that was donated by the Trans Saharan Trading (TST) to the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).

TST was given a contract as the "sole supplier" of crude oil for Indeni Oil Refinery in Ndola, and shortly afterwards it donated US $ 100 million to the ruling party.

It has been stated that the donation was received by former vice president Enock Kavindele and that the late finance minister Emmanuel Kasonde delivered US $ 60, 000 to Mwanawasa.

"Soon after the first crude oil importation, TST made a donation of $ 100 million to the MMD. Kavindele received the money and gave finance minister Kasonde $ 60, 000 for onward delivery to Mwanawasa.

"Mwanawasa received the $ 60, 000, and the balance was given to the MMD national secretary Newstead Zimba, "says

the report. Amalgamated Bank of Southern Africa (ABSA) has sued the Zambian government for the recovery of the $ 100 million because of the guarantee and security it signed.

But there are questions because when the contract for TST was cancelled, it is said that there were some stock it had that would be used to liquidate the debt.

The question is: why is the government facing the S $ 100 million liability when TST had stocks from which the loan would have been paid?

In the midst of these questions, Defence Minister George Mpombo recently decided to resign from President Banda's government. The former Defence Minister, who nearly drowned in a swimming pool in Livingstone recently, has also reigned as chairman for energy in the MMD's National Executive Committee. He has opted to retain his position as Member of Parliament for Kafulafuta Constituency on the Copperbelt. Coincidentally, Mpombo was the minister of energy and water development at the time of the TST saga that has ignited the ABSA court claim. There are questions how TST was allowed to import fuel for Indeni, Zambia's only oil distilling facility, without being registered with the Energy Regulation Board. In April 2003, Mwanawasa used his presidential decree to cancel the contract that TST had with Indeni, claiming its formation was linked to former vice president Kavindele.

Kavindele, who was also the vice president of the MMD, vehemently challenged Mwanawasa that he was not involved in the formation of TST, but rather it was his son, who bears the same name, who had something to do with TST. It was as a result of TST saga that Kavindele was fired by Mwanawasa from government. He also dropped the late finance minister Kasonde. The two had been tasked by Mwanawasa to look for funds for the MMD. In 2006, Kavindele was not adopted as MMD parliamentary candidate for Kapombo West Constituency in the North Western Province.

Other than that, Mwanawasa and his widow, Maureen, have been linked to the importation of 30, 000 tonnes of maize worth $ 7,350, 000.  (Sila Press Agency)



One million Pula for toilet? Are you crazy?

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