‘Board members wanted Chirwa out of Fallsway’

FORMER Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) chief executive officer Clive Chirwa owed Fallsway Apartments K44,000 and not K72,000, former ZRL director of finance Regina Mwale told the Lusaka magistrates court yesterday.

Mwale also revealed that there was tension  that characterised the relationship between ZRL board chairperson, Mark Chona and Chirwa. There was controversy, she said because the board held too many meetings which cost the company heavily.

She also said the Fallsway Apartment accommodated many senior government officers apart from Chirwa.

Mwale said she was shocked that the baord considered Fallsway Apartments as too expensive when Chirwa as CEO was entitled to a five-star hotel.

She said she was shocked that the Board sent her on forced leave when they were aware of the reasons why Chirwa was being accommodated at Fallsway Apartments in Lusaka.

Mwale is jointly charged with Chirwa for abuse of authority of office.

She said Chirwa could not be accommodated at the official ZRL residence because the house was still under renovation.

Mwale however told the court that works at Chirwa’s house had stalled because of the challenges the company was facing at the purchasing and supply department because when the concession was cancelled more workers were retrenched and only 26 staff remained, which left the department with only one experiencedmembers of staff.

She said when officials from the Zambia Procurement and Purchasing Agency conducted an inspection at the company they said they were not happy that the department had no qualified staff except one who had a certificate.

Mwale said it was at this time when the budget was released and she was advised to use the money for critical purchases such as fuel until a senior official was recruited.

She said due to this directive the furniture at Chirwa’s house was not bought which made Chirwa to continue staying at the apartment.

Mwale said she was later called to a meeting by the board who directed her to move Chirwa to a cheaper house within two weeks.

She called Chirwa and told him that she was directed to move him to a cheaper house and gave Chirwa contact numbers for the estate agents.

Mwale said she told Chirwa that there was nothing she could do as she had received directives that he should be moved from the apartment to a cheaper house.

She told the court that a few days later she met Chirwa and told him that the money the company was spending on sitting allowances for board members was too much.

Mwale said Chirwa asked her to give him the withdrawal slips and he too agreed that the board meeting allowances were exaggerated.

She told the court that she was sent on forced leave after some board members accused her of waging a war between the board and Chirwa

Mwale however said it was shocking that the board sent her on forced leave when she was not reporting to the board but to the CEO who was not aware about her forced leave.

Mwale said she was immediately ordered to park her personal documents and leave the office.

She said while parking her personal effects, a police officer entered her office to witness what was going on and that  while doing so the officer received a call from the officer- in-charge from Kabwe that Ms Mwale had stolen a company laptop.  The officer replied that Ms Mwale was still in the office packing her belongings and that she did not steal any laptop.

She said another phone call came directing her to tell her secretary to also leave immediately.

Principal Resident Magistrate Obster Musukwa adjourned the matter to a later date.