Dangote Industries Zambia Limited (DIZ) has accused Labour and Social Services Minister Fackson Shamenda of harassment and has rubbished allegations that the cement company offered him a bribe.
Dangote has described the accusation as malicious and misinformation and wondered why Mr Shamenda as a government minister did not report the alleged bribe offer to the Anti-Corruption Commission if he was being truthful in his allegations.
Dangote said in a statement yesterday that Mr Shamenda had in the last four months made four surprise visits to the cement company with the last two having been made last weekend when senior management officials were absent.
The cement company has expressed concern at the surprise visits and felt that they were being harassed and unwelcome in Zambia.
The cement company explained that after realizing that Mr Shamenda was harassing them by looking for wrongdoing, they complained to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and a meeting was subsequently held.
Dangote stated that it was surprising that Mr Shamenda chose to have a business meeting with a junior member of staff Baka Zango at Intercontinental Hotel after working hours.
“Our understanding of the meeting between Mr Shamenda and Zango is that it was purely a social interaction. If indeed the minister was offered an inducement, as a responsible Zambian and figure of authority, he should have reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission which is the body legally empowered to deal with such issues,” the statement obtained by the Daily Nation said.
DIZ is a subsidiary of Dangote Cement Plc, the largest listed company on the Nigrian Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of over $24 billion.
Dangote said it was regrettable that media houses in Zambia did not request for a comment from the company but proceeded to disseminate misinformation.
The cement company which has already invested over US$400 million to build what is going to be Zambia’s largest integrated cement plant in Ndola said DIZ entered into an investment promotion and protection agreement with the government and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA).
And opposition Zambia Direct Democracy Movement and Transparency International Zambia have challenged Mr Shamenda to publicly indicate whether he complied with the provisions of the law and reported this matter to the ACC or Zambia Police within 24 hours as per legal requirement.
ZDDM vice president Charles Kafumbo said it was not enough for Mr Shamenda to simply state that an official attempted to bribe him without stating how much was involved.
“We want to challenge Mr Shamenda to tell the nation how much he was offered rather than him emerging champion over a lunch invitation. It is not fair to expose attempted corruption without saying how much was involved. Most times we have a situation where people have been given very little money and they rush to expose it but if it is something huge, they keep quiet about it.
“Dangote is a huge investment and he must stop harassing it. We in the ZDDM believe there is more to it than what he is talking about. Why is he trying to probe?
He should not be seen to be harassing people when there are a lot of Zambian companies that were subjecting their workers to poor conditions of service,” Mr Kafumbo said.
And TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu said if Mr Shamenda did not report this matter to ACC or Zambia Police, then he abrogated the law.
Mr Lungu said his organisation demanded that the ACC took interest in the matter and thoroughly investigate and take the necessary measures.
He said the action would serve as a deterrent to other private companies that it was a serious offence in Zambia to offer or give bribes to public officials.
He said as a public officer Mr Shamenda was expected to have complied with the law by reporting the incident to the ACC within the required confines of the law specifically the Anti-Corruption Act No. 3 of 2012 section 39 subsection 1.
“TIZ wants to put it on record that it is a criminal offence to offer a bribe. under section 19 subsection 2 of the Anti-Corruption Act, (2) for a person who, by oneself, or by, or in conjunction with, any other person, corruptly gives, promises or offers any gratification to any public officer, whether for the benefit of that public officer or of any other public officer, as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do, anything in relation to any matter or transaction, actual or proposed, with which any public body is or may be concerned, commits an offence,” he said.