The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is allegedly “blocking” the arrest and prosecution of fired Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo following conclusion of investigations on her by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for breach of the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) Act.
According to Section 75 (c) of the ZPPA Act, it is an offence for anyone to interfere in a tender process. The ACC spokesperson Timothy Moono in a quarterly press briefing over two weeks ago assured the nation that his organisation had concluded investigations on Masebo amongst others for corruption and abuse of authority of office. Masebo was alleged to have benefitted from Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) funds when she ordered ZAWA to pay a Chilanga-based lodge to the tune of about K42, 000 for accommodation and upkeep of her witnesses in the recent Tribunal established to investigate her over allegations of corruption and abuse of office in matters related to ZAWA. Ms Masebo appeared before the Tribunal in her personal capacity and was not entitled to use of public funds in her defence. She was also investigated by ZAWA for her interference in the tender process for hunting concessions involving 19 hunting blocks by private operators.
Following the findings by the Tribunal that Masebo was in breach of the ZAWA Act when she fired senior management without explanation and also that she committed a criminal offence when she interfered in the tender process by ordering the non-publication of the list of successful bidders, the ACC confirmed that Masebo had been found with a case to answer and the ACC is seeking approval of the DPP to arrest and prosecute.
When contacted, an inside source at the ACC confirmed the development saying “We are aware of the Tribunal findings but we had to conduct our own investigations. As our spokesperson has already confirmed, we has already concluded we have completed our work some weeks ago and the report has been passed over to our legal department with recommendations. Our legal officers are supposed to advise us on the way forward. That is all I call tell you as of now, I cannot go into details. Perhaps they are still consulting with the office of the DPP and if that is the case, it is taking unusually long.”
DPP Mutembo Nchito is a close associate of Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who is also known to have an intimate relationship with Masebo. Nchito recently was drawn into a parliamentary scandal when it was revealed that he had allegedly delivered discontinuations of criminal prosecutions against banker Rajan Mahtani in exchange for debt forgiveness of some $4.2 million.