Corruption is nothing new to the Southern Africa region, and certainly Zambia is no exception to the trend. What is interesting, however, is the increasing cases of corruption of public organs as part of private sector disputes, where the government is used as an economic weapon among businessmen.
According to exclusive new documents unearthed as part of our in-depth investigation of the take over of the Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) company by the controversial multimillionaire Rajan Mahtani, members of the Zambian Police have been caught red handed disobeying direct court orders, posing a breakdown in Zambia’s constitutional rule of law under the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
The latest leaked documents, which can be downloaded here, include a cover letter dated Jan. 2, 2013 to the Inspector General Stella Libongani and the Copperbelt Province police chief signed by the Malambo & Co. law firm, demanding that the police serve a court order to Mr. Andrew Kamanga, the individual who had been appointed by Mahtani as managing director of ZPC.
However, despite this letter being delivered to the Zambian Police along with the order of the court, the police refused to take any action whatsoever toward Mr. Kamanga and failed to serve him, representing a clear gesture of disrespect for the constitutional authority of the judiciary.
“There are only two ways in which the police would dare to disobey the courts,” said the source who provided Zambia Reports. “Either the instructions came down directly from the head of state President Michael Sata himself, or the local police were bribed. Either way, whether the allegations are true or not, Rajan Mahtani is the one who privately benefits from this illegal disobedience by the police.”
The source did not provide direct evidence of bribery by any party, but instead pointed to Mahtani’s established close links with the PF government, and the deployment of more than 200 police officers to forcefully steal control of ZPC in December 2012.
The court order which the police refused to serve to Mr Kamanga was the High Court case numbered 2008/HN/268 in the matter of Antonio Ventriglia, Manuela Ventriglia, and Zambezi Portland Cement Limited vs. the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank) and Robert Mbonani Simeza. The court order related to the contempt proceedings against Rajan Mahtani, John Sangwa, Joan Craven, and David Kanaganayangam.
The court order found that the board meeting arranged by Mahtani to appoint Kamanga to take over the company was illegal: “Therefore the three directors, who attended the meeting of 3rd December 2012 are fully aware of these orders or the decisions of this court and the Supreme Court. (…) Mr. Kamanga’s appointment is not valid.”
The Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC), which is a $160 million plant located in Ndola on the Copperbelt, has been the subject of a highly contentious and politically sensitive battle for ownership between the company founders Antonio Ventriglia and Manueal Sebastini and the financier Rajan Mahtani.