Maxwell Mwale got loan to buy bicycles – witness

Vice President of Zhongi group of companies Janny Shao yesterday testified that former Minister of Mines Maxwell Mwale got a loan from his company to buy bicycles which he is accused of soliciting. And former Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Felix Mutati told the Lusaka Magistrates court that the International Protection Promotion Agreement mining licence (IPPAML) which incorporated Zhongi Mining Group Limited had nothing to do with the distribution of the alleged 500 Bicycles which were distributed by Mr Mwale. The former Minister of Mines is alleged to have abused his authority of office by facilitating a mining licence to Zhongi Mining group Limited without following the laid down procedures. Mr Janny told the court that he saw a file of an agreement from his office in which Mwale got a loan from Zhongi Mining LTD which he used to buy the bicycles. He said he was not aware if the loan Mwale got was paid back or not. Mr Janny also said he saw different letters written to Mwale demanding the repayment of the loan. He also confirmed that Zhongi Mining LTD was registered with the Zambian government and an MOU was signed between the two parties. And Mr Mutati, 55, who is Lunte member of Parliament, said during cross examination that Zhongi Mining group Limited was duly registered under the government of Zambia under the International Protection Promotion Agreement in 2007. Mr.Mutati told   Magistrate Lameck Mwale that in 2006 his ministry undertook a number of developmental programmes aimed at identifying the credible sources of investments which would be beneficial to the government and the Zambian people. He said he travelled to China and met several investors at the forum in Shamen town where he articulated opportunities which were available in Zambia and his agenda to China made Zambia a key investment destination in Southern Africa. Mr. Mutati said at the end of the forum he engaged Zhongi who showed interest in becoming Zambia’s largest investors and promised to invest up to US$5 billion in various sectors of Zambia’s economy. He said after the discussion, the two parties entered into an agreement and signed a Memorandum of Understanding which was done by Zhongi President Charles Shi with advantages of creating employment to the Zambia people and boosting Zambia’s economy. Mr Mutati further told the court that upon his arrival in Zambia, he briefed the then President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa (late) on the output of the mission which was undertaken in China and the signing of an agreement between the government of Zambia and the Zambia China Cooperation zone (ZCCZ) and the signing of the MOU. He said among other issues he also briefed President Mwanawasa on another MOU which he signed with the Bank of China in expressing interest to extend the Kariba North Bank.  Mr Mutati said President Mwanawasa had indicated that the issues which were placed before him were so significant in terms of addressing challenges that the country was facing and he had promised to render his full support in the realization and achievements of the project. Mr Mutati also told the court that subsequently Zhongi came to Zambia and many government ministries were involved such as Mines, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Lands and various stakeholders in addressing various components related to the MOU. He added that the project of the mines was undertaken in North-Western and Copperbelt provinces respectively. And when asked during cross examination whether the mining licence also incorporated the distribution of the alleged 500 Bicycles which were distributed by Mwale, Mr Mutati said the IPPA License had nothing to do with the bicycles. The matter comes up today for a continuation of defence.