Good riddance

The Zambia Railways saga should serve as an important lesson to the Government, not to rely on flawed individuals. Integrity is a very cardinal tenet in leadership. Those who aspire to lead must be honest, truthful and act above board at all times.

People who tell lies to gain position are not only a danger to institutional integrity but also pose a serious risk to the unsuspecting publice they have to deal with.

President Sata would have done very well to read the Tribunal report of late Director of Public Prosecutions ( DPP) Mukelababi Mukelabai Tribunal  to understand some of the people to whom he has entrusted serious Government responsibilities.

These people had no qualms in fabricating vile lies and propaganda against Mukelabai who was driven  into  exile and eventual death.

Before we published our story on Zambia Railways we asked the Chairman of the Board of Directors Mr.  Mark Chona to confirm reports that Professor Clive Chirwa had been suspended, that the $120million Eurobond grant from Government was about to be moved from Zanaco to Rajan Mahtani’s Finance Bank, that Chief Finance Officer Regina  Mwale had been placed on forced leave and that the Board was asking to be paid an accumulated K500million in sitting allowances.

He refused to comment, explaining that there was an illness in the family, an answer we found to be odd.

We put the same questions to Professor Chirwa, he expressed ignorance about his suspension, he was not aware of the account at Finance Bank to which the Eurobond grant was to be transferred, he confirmed that his Chief Finance officer had been placed on forced leave in circumstances that he was not happy with and admitted that there were difficulties with allowances in the Board but did not elaborate.

Since then we have discovered that indeed the Board wanted to send Professor Chirwa on forced leave. Indeed the Board had discussed the transfer of the US$120million Eurobond grant into Rajan Mahtani’s Finance Bank, that indeed the Finance Director was placed on forced leave by the Board and finally that indeed the Board had incurred a whopping K450million in the last three months in meetings, some of which were held at homes and without minutes and in the absence of the management.

Most incredibly sitting allowances were paid to board members meeting with the Minister or Permanent Secretary in Lusaka!

That is why we are not surprised that the Government has dissolved the Zambia Railways Board of Directors, which appears to have assumed management functions, instead of limiting itself to board issues.

It is not for the Board to micro-manage an enterprise to the extent of the Chairman Mark Chona getting involved in writing the parent Ministry seeking authorization for the movement of the Eurobond money to a different bank. This is the work of the Chief Finance Officer, not even for the Chief Executive. Sadly the company’s Chief Finance Officer has been sent on forced leave by the board, again in a manner that usurps the role of management.

We hope that in reconstituting the Board the Government will  check the character references of all candidates to ensure that only the best possible people are appointed to serve the best interests of the nation.