ZRA vehicles were given to PF for campaigns, witness tells court
A former administration manager at the Zambia Revenue Authority has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Court that unused vehicles belonging to the authority were given to the Patriotic Front to be used in campaigns prior to the 2021 general elections without following procedure.
Sitali Mulozi a businessman told principal resident magistrate Sylvia Munyinya that Calistus Kaoma who was the director administration at ZRA ordered him to give 22 vehicles to PF through an internal tender following a directive from then Director general Kingsley Chanda.
In this matter Chanda and Kaoma are charged with abuse of authority of office for disposing of 22 vehicles belonging to ZRA without following guidelines and prejudicing government.
Among the vehicles are 13 Mitsubishi pajeros, a Nissan hardbody, a Nissan Tida, Nissan microbus, a Toyota Corolla, four Toyota Hilux, and a Toyota prado.
Mulozi said according to laid down procedure obselete, disused and unservisable institutional property would be disposed of by way of by public auction, disposal by internal tender, disposal by rotary, disposal by donation and also disposal by destruction depending on the type of asset.
“Regards to the disposal of motor vehicles, once schedules are received, I, as secretary would liaise with the chairperson who was at the time Mr Kaoma, and call for a meeting for the assets disposal committee to consider the motor vehicles proposed for disposal,” he said.
Mulozi indicated that prior to 2015, the authority predominantly disposed of motor vehicles by way of public auction.
He said Kaoma had engaged him and informed him that there were numerous complaints from members of staff indicating that they there were unable to participate in the public auctions because they couldn’t compete with externals who had formed cartels to purchase the vehicles at an exorbitant price.
Mulozi said Kaoma guided that going forward from, the committee should recommend an Internal tender as a method of disposing of motor vehicles.
He said once the board approved the disposal, the board secretary Suzyo Ng’andu, would inform the members that approval for disposal has been granted he would circulate a memo to members of staff
The witness said sometime in 2017 Kaoma, asked him if it was possible for non-employees to take part in the purchase of the used vehicles but he guided that it was not possible.
“He then mentioned to say that there were external people who were interested in buying the used ZRA vehicles. At first, he did not mention the names of people who were interested in the vehicles. I told him the only way externals could participate was if we reverted to public auctions. But there would be no guarantee that the interested externals would be ending up to buy the vehicles,” Mulozi said.
“Not long after that discussion, Mr Kaoma called me and confided in me that the externals who were interested in the used ZRA motor vehicles were the then ruling party, the Patriotic Front and that senior officials had sent that request through the commissioner general who at the time was Kingsley Chanda.”
He said Kaoma had told him that the directive to facilitate the disposal of the vehicles was from Chanda.
“I told him that the only way externals would get used ZRA vehicles would be if they bought from members of staff who had bought from the internal tender. This is because it was not uncommon for members of staff to buy internally at relatively low price and those who wanted would sale at a higher price of they so wished,” Mulozi said.
“Mr Kaoma asked if members of staff would be willing to sale after buying internally. I responded and said that it was difficult to g round asking the winners after the internal tender if they would be willing to sell, I told him it would be tedious.”
He said Kakoma guided that when preparing the advert not all vehicles approved for disposal would be advertised to members of staff.
He said he was given a names for members of staff to be awarded vehicles.
“Mr Kaoma then released money in most cases it was above the reserve price of the vehicles. Separately, he left some of the money with me and advised that our clerk deposits the money in the ZRA bank account in the names that he had provided,”Mulozi said.
“These vehicles were being excluded from the advert to members of staff so as to reserve them for the interested externals who in this case were the Patriotic Front party for use in party mobilisation and campaign activities.”
Mulozi added that the exclusion of vehicles is against the ZRA policy that provides for the sell of all the vehicles through internal tender without exception and does not provide for any exceptions.
CAPTION: File photo for illustration
By Mwaka Ndawa