Witness testifies against dismissed workers

A witness yesterday told the Lusaka Magistrate court that three Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRS) employees abused their authority of office by allegedly diverting K 267 million (unrebased) which was meant for the Orphans and vulnerable children project in Sesheke and Kazungula districts.

This is in a case in which  Charles Mushitu who is former ZRS General Secretary, Sydney Chitute former Finance Manager and Kelvin Chiposwa former Board Chairperson are alleged to have between July 1 , 2011 and February 12,2012 abused the authority of their offices and misapplied a sum of K 267 million for Orphans and vulnerable children project.

Samuel Matuka, 44, a health Delegate for International Federation for Red Cross (IFRC) in Nigeria told the court that in 2011, the IFRC entered an agreement with Netherlands Red Cross who wanted to fund the ZRS among other countries for the implementation of an HIV/AIDS project.

Mr Matuka said being an HIV Delegate responsible for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Funds at regional level, he prepared two documents namely Cash pledge which contained the concept of the detail of the project, the objectives, a work plan on how the project was to be implemented and the total budget which amounted to 260.000 Euros.

He said part of that amount was given to ZRS.

Mr Matuka said the other document was the cooperation agreement which was between ZRS and IFRC.

He said after an agreement which was signed by both parties the money was received and sent to ZRS for the implementation of the OVC Project.

Mr Matuka however said that in 2012, he was visited by officers from the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in regards to the two documents which were the cash pledge and the cooperation agreement which was between the ZRS and IFRC.

He said he had the documents related to the OVC project and he handed over the documents.

But the defence lawyers produced the minutes of the meeting which was held at the ZRS offices in Lusaka between ZRS and IFRC which was chaired by Alasan Senghore, the Director for Africa Zone in February 2012, in which according to the DEC  findings  Chairman said no donor complained that there were funds missing .

Defence counsel argued that it was in the same minutes where Mr Senghore said that despite no reports of missing funds the DEC officers went ahead and arrested Mushitu, Chitute and Chiposwa and seized the vehicles they were using.

But Mr Matuka denied the authenticity of the meeting and told the court that he knew Mr Senghore as Director for Africa Zone but was not aware about the meeting which took place.

The matter comes up on September 3 for a continuation of trial.