ZNBC incurred a total loss of more than K78 million from airing 14 episodes of a documentary called ‘’Stand up for Zambia ‘’ at no cost by freelance journalist Chanda Chiimba 111 which was directed by former minister of Information and Broadcasting Ronny Shikapwasha and his permanent secretary Dr Sam Phiri, Lusaka Magistrates Court heard yesterday.
State witness Sub-Chief Inspector Peter Bwalya, 52, of Zambia Police, said this in a case in which Shikapwasha and Dr Phiri are jointly charged with one count of abuse of authority of office.
He said on May 14, 2012, he received information that Chimba 111 paid for the printing of newspapers at the Zambia Daily Mail and that he also paid for some documentaries at ZNBC, Muvi TV and Mobi TV.
Mr Bwalya said he instituted investigations to establish how much was spent and who was the sponsor of the documentaries.
He said he went to Zambia Daily Mail where it was confirmed that Chimba 111 in the name of Debanjo Productions paid for the printing of 130 copies of a newspaper publication called Stand up for Zambia and 85,000 copies of a newspaper publication namely News of our Times at a total cost of more than K300 million.
He said he managed to recover nine copies of Stand up for Zambia and five copies of News of our Times publications.
Mr Bwalya told Magistrate Obister Musukwa that he extended his investigations to ZNBC where it was confirmed that Mr Chimba in the name of Debanjo Productions paid for 26 episodes of a documentary called Stand up for Zambia at a total cost of K9,403, 12.
He said it was further discovered that 14 episodes were repeated by ZNBC at no cost and that the corporation incurred a loss of K78, 500, 486 .
Mr Bwalya said he proceeded to Muvt TV where it was also confirmed that Chimba paid for 16 episodes of Stand up for Zambia documentary at a cost of K128 million.
At Mobi TV it was found that a number of documentaries were documented but the station failed to give him records of payments.
He said he also carried out investigations at the National Archives where it was confirmed that both newspaper publications were not registered.
Mr Bwalya said he proceeded to PACRA were it was also revealed that Debanjo Productions was registered with a sole director being Chanda Philip Chimba 111.
He said with that information he started a random search at the banks in Lusaka and found that Chimba had two accounts with Stanbic Bank Mulungushi branch with dollar and kwacha accounts which had no funds to support the payments of the documentaries and the newspaper productions.
Mr Bwalya said he proceeded to Zambia Revenue Authority where it was confirmed that Debanjo Productions had not paid any duty, adding that it was at this time when he went back to ZNBC where he was told that the corporation’s Director and Board of Directors refused to air the documentary due to its nature but that the minister and PS directed that the documentary be aired and that Government would pay.
He told court he then decided to summon the former minister and PS for questioning both of whom opted to remain silent and a warn and caution was recorded.
Mr Bwalya said he then decided to charge the duo with one count of abuse of authority of office by directing ZNBC to broadcast episodes against professional advice and another count of abuse of authority of office by committing the Government to pay legal fees and liabilities for the same documentary.
Mr Bwalya said he further went on to arrest and charge Chimba for being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime at a cost of K611,440,433 and another charge of two counts of unlawful printing and publication of two publications namely Stand up for Zambia and News of our Times.
Magistrate Musukwa adjourned the matter to today for cross examination.