The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has instituted investigations into allegations that the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) was forced to spend a whopping K42, 499, 80 on three traditional leaders and their retainers as well as Community Resource Board (CRB) members who were witnesses for former Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo when she appeared before the Judge RhoydaKaoma Tribunal.
ACC public relations manager TimothMoono confirmed that although the Commission had not yet received a formal complaint from former transport and communications minister, William Harrington, over Masebo’s alleged misuse of ZAWA funds, it had already commenced investigations into the matter.
“I wish to acknowledge receipt of your press query in which you wanted to find out whether the Commission has received the complaint from the former tourism minister William Harrington regarding instituting investigations against former Tourism and Arts minister Sylvia Masebo for alleged misuse of ZAWA funds. I wish to state that the Commission has not yet received the complaint from the former minister of tourism William Harrington. However, you may wish to know that the Commission already instituted investigations into the matter,” Moono said in a statement.
This is the latest ZAWA financial scandal, which former Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda has described as shocking and gross abuse of authority and office, which relevant investigative wings should investigate.
According to information obtained 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, an institution she claimed could have been liquidated had it been a private company because of corruption and mismanagement. Ndozo Lodge was apparently single sourced and in an attempt to cover up the breach on procurement requirements, Manus Simwanza, a ZAWA procurement director, who was one of the witnesses for Masebo, formalized the single sourcing by directing that two extra quotations be obtained to justify the procurement.
Efforts to get a comment from ZAWA acting director Xenophon Vlahakis failed as he did not pick the numerous calls made to him.
But ZAWA legal counsel Andrew Kombe said he was not aware that ZAWA had paid for all the bills for Masebo’s witnesses when she was appearing before the tribunal in her personal capacity.
“It is not true that ZAWA paid for the witnesses for the former tourism minister. Any way I cannot explain and I think the best person to make a comment is the director of finance and commercial services. I have no idea about the information you have asked for and I will check it out when I get back to the office because now I am in Sesheke,” Kombe said before he cut the line.
On Monday, Harrington wrote to the ACC and copied his letter to President Michael Sata asking the commission to immediately commence investigations against Masebo for allegedly having abused ZAWA funds while she was appearing before the Judge Kaoma Tribunal.