The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) was forced to spend a whopping K42,499,80 in financing the transportation, upkeep and accommodation of three chiefs, their retainers and Community Resource Board (CRB) members who testified for former Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo in the Judge Rhoyda Kaoma led Tribunal.
Among the chiefs that were accommodated at Ndozo Lodge included chief Jumbe of Mambwe district in Eastern Province, chief Musungwa of Itezhi Tezhi district in Southern Province and chief Chikwa of Chama district.
The Daily Nation is yet to establish where chief Nabwalya who was flown to Lusaka by a Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) helicopter was accommodated.
And former Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda has said that if it was true that K42,499,80 was spent on Masebo’s witnesses, the expenditure was a dizzying scandal and a clear theft of public funds because the Chongwe MP was being investigated as an individual who should have met all the expenses for her witnesses.
Lubinda said the Judge Kaoma Tribunal was set up to investigate Masebo’s misconduct and the Attorney General’s office was not part of the matter for the former minister to have had her personal expenses paid for by a State owned enterprise.
Lubinda said Masebo was claiming that she was fighting the corrupt cartel in the tourism sector stating that he would be a very shocked man if Masebo could have involved herself in corrupt activities while attempting to clear her name in the tribunal.
ZAWA acting director general Xenophon Vlahakis approved the financing of Masebo’s witnesses and ordered his director of finance and commercial services to effect the payment to Ndozo Lodge that was single sourced.
Officers from ZAWA disclosed that director conversation and management was forced to come up with a budget of K42, 499,80 to facilitate the transportation, accommodation and upkeep of Masebo’s witnesses who according to the authority were supposed to be in Lusaka for ten days.
Ndozo Lodge was apparently single sourced and in an attempt to cover up the breach on procurement requirements, Manus Simwanza formalized the single sourcing by obtaining directing that two extra quotations be obtained to justify the act of single sourcing.
According to information gathered by the Daily Nation, ZAWA sourced about K42, 499.80 which was paid to Ndozo Lodge in Lusaka where Masebo’s witnesses were booked at the expense of the authority, a company she claimed could have been liquidated had it been a private company because of alleged corruption and mismanagement.
According to the information from ZAWA officers, the correspondence between ZAWA director general and his director finance and commercial services, the officers were advised to obtain two extra quotations or write a justification note for single sourcing so as to follow tender procedures.
According to the ZAWA officials, the authority had invited selected CRB members to join the team of Masebo to testify before the William Harrington tribunal and three CRB chairpersons, three chiefs and their retainers were accommodated at Ndozo Lodge.
They said ZAWA was forced to call Chief Nabwalya from Mpika and his retainer but the traditional leader was not given an opportunity to testify.
But Lubinda who is the Kabwata Patriotic Front (PF) Member of Parliament (MP) said Masebo was dragged to the tribunal in her personal capacity and could therefore not involve a government statutory body to finance her expenses.
Lubinda said Masebo could only have had her expenses paid for by ZAWA if she had been sued as Minister of Tourism and Arts because then the Attorney General (AG) was going to be involved as a representative of the State.
Lubinda said he could not believe that Masebo could be so callous as to allow herself to defraud ZAWA at the time when she purported to have been defending the institution by dissolving its board, cancelling its Safari hunting tender and dismissing its directors.
“Is it not a wonder that while she was holding a Bible in the right hand swearing that she stood for the truth, her left hand was busy abusing ZAWA by allowing it to finance the expenses of her witnesses that had nothing to do with the State. Her matter was totally unrelated to government and she could not have allowed the State to foot the bills of her witnesses,” Lubinda said.
He said Masebo as the holder of the office of Minister of Tourism and Arts was being investigated at personal level and could not ask government to finance her expenses.
Masebo in some of her testimonies claimed that President Michael Sata had directed her to dissolve ZAWA board and cancel its 19 Safari hunting concession tender. Masebo also claimed that President Sata had authorized her to fire ZAWA director Edwin Matokwani along with his four subordinate directors.
Masebo was last week fired by President Sata and no reasons were given for her dismissal.