Agriculture Minister Robert Sichinga has been dragged to court for allegedly failing to pay K15, 000 to a transporter he had personally hired to transport mealie meal and other campaign materials to Petauke central constituency.
George Musonda of House Number 32/27, Garden House, Lusaka has sued Minister Sichinga in the Small Claims Court demanding K15,000 owed to him (Musonda) after he had entered into a contract with the Agriculture Minister to transport mealie meal to Petauke.
The items, according to Musonda were meant to be distributed to the voters ahead of the by-election in the area.
According to the summons dated November 27th 2013, obtained by the Daily Nation, Sichinga has been sued for failing to settle K15,000, the amount he had committed himself to pay through a contract signed between himself (Sichinga) and Musonda.
Musonda of Garden House says he was hired by Sichinga to ferry more than 200 bags of 50 kilogrammes mealie meal for distribution to the voters in Petauke but the minister has since turned hostile and has resorted to threats and intimidation against the transporter.
Earlier when contacted for a comment, Sichinga asked the Daily Nation not to go ahead and publish the story.
Sichinga denied assertions that he refused to settle the agreed bill he signed for in a written contract and told the reporter to stay away from the scandal warning that he was going to sue the Daily Nation if the newspaper was going to publish the story.
Sichinga has also threatened that he was going to sue Musonda over the allegations but in a turn of events, the minister has been the first to be dragged to court.
“Actually I am taking that gentleman to court. He has been following me to the office, my house and even to church to talk about the same thing. I owe him no money. You have a career to protect so stay away from this matter. These are cadres who want to extort money from politicians,” said Sichinga.
Musonda has claimed that Sichinga contracted him to transport 110 bags of Chat Milling Company mealie meal and 100 bags of African Milling Company mealie meal to Petauke for distribution ahead of the by-election before the Electoral Commission of Zambia postponed the by-election as a result of the court proceedings.
According to a written contract dated August 8th, 2013 signed by Sichinga and Musonda, the Agriculture Minister had agreed to pay K15, 000 after the full execution of the contract.
On September 27th, 2013, Sichinga made a down payment of K500 towards the agreed amount of K15, 000 and since then, the minister has refused to settle the difference and has resorted to threats against Musonda for demanding his money.
“I entered into a contract with the Minister of Agriculture Bob Sichinga to transport 210 bags of mealie meal from two companies from Lusaka to Petauke for distribution to the voters in readiness for the elections. I also transported Chitenge materials and T-shirts and we agreed that he would pay K15 000 after negotiation,” said Musonda.
Musonda narrated how Sichinga summoned Police Officers from Kabwata Police Station and ordered for his arrest for demanding his payment.
“We just saw 8 armed police officers coming who were ordered to arrest me and brother. That is how we were bundled in the police car and taken to Kabwata where we were interrogated and the Criminal Investigations Officer said that we did not committee any crime except that the matter was involving a senior minister,” complained Musonda.
He said it was shocking that a Cabinet Minister in a government that promised more money and jobs for Zambians was victimising the poor who were struggling to make a living.