A NEWS Diggers! investigation has revealed that the Rwandese national called Nsengiyumva Appolinaire, who was named by that country’s rebel leader Maj Nsabimana Sankara Calliixte in a court testimony as his link to President Edgar Lungu, is actually a member of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) procurement committee in Zambia.
And Appolinaire has told News Diggers! that he has heard about the allegations levelled against him, but declined to explain his links to the rebel movement in Rwanda and his association with President Lungu, saying he was not in a position to talk about the issue because he had been unwell for the past seven months.
President Lungu has vehemently refuted media reports linking him to terrorist financing in Rwanda.
Rwandese rebel leader Maj Sankara, who faces 17 charges including Terrorism and murder in Rwanda, told that country’s High Court for International and cross-border crimes that his group, National Liberation Force (FLN) received money from the Zambian President to launch attacks against that country’s current regime.
“Early 2019 before I was arrested, One Nsengiyumva Appolinaire a leader of PDR, one of the many political parties that form MRCD travelled to Zambia to meet Lungu to discuss how he would offer them more support,” Maj Sankara told the court, Monday, claiming they received US$150, 000 towards the cause.
On Friday last week, upon returning from Kigali where he met President Paul Kagame as President Lungu’s special envoy on diplomatic engagements around the issue, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji said the allegations bordered on national security, and as such government would launch investigations to establish how the rebel leader could link President Lungu to his terrorist activities.
“I should clear our position over the self proclaimed Calliixte Nsabimana. These allegations are coming from a convict. I had a lengthy meeting with President Paul Kagame [of Rwanda] as a special envoy of the President of the Republic of Zambia, and the government of Rwanda and President Paul Kagame was very categorical that this convict had been to five countries prior to his arrest and Zambia was not one of them. He was very categorical about this,” said Malanji.
“We are going to dig [into this]. Diplomatically, we are going to engage Rwanda to make sure we find the reason and who could have enticed this convict to bring the name of the President of Zambia and the country into disrepute. We are following this up, soon officers will be going to Rwanda to make sure that we dig and find out why he had to bring in the name of Zambia and the name of President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. We want to get to the bottom of everything. When we are doing an investigation, we can’t leave it in suspense. Even you as a citizen you should know that these are matters bordering on national security and we shouldn’t trivialize anything. So we want to get to the bottom of this.”
But according to an investigation, Appolinaire was appointed to the IDC procurement committee in 2015 and re-appointed in 2018, both times under President Lungu’s reign as chairman of the IDC board.
Responding to a press query sent by News Diggers, Thursday, IDC confirmed that Appolinaire was a procurement committee member of the country’s parent company of government owned enterprises.
“Mr. Nsengiyumva Appolinaire, a procurement specialist, is one of the external members of the IDC Procurement Committee. He was first appointed in 2015 by the then Chief Executive Officer in accordance with the PPA of 2008 Section 13(2)(a) and Section 17(1). He was re-appointed in 2018, in accordance with the PPA of 2008. He holds no other position at the IDC,” read the response.
Asked who appoints procurement committee members, the IDC said it was the responsibility of the the Chief Executive.
“Members of the IDC Procurement Committee are appointed by the Group Chief Executive Officer in his capacity as Controlling Officer, as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act (PPA) of 2008. The IDC Board of Directors does not participate in the appointment of the Procurement Committee or any other matters related to IDC as a procuring entity, as these are handled in accordance with the PPA,” the response read.
Asked to explain the role of the IDC procurement committee, IDC said it was to preside over all transactions relating to procurement, but declined to list the key procurement transactions that had been approved since 2015.
“The role of the Committee is to preside over all transactions and processes relating to procurements undertaken by the corporation in line with the PPA as well as the Public Procurement Regulations (PPR) of 2011.”
IDC also did not respond to the question seeking to establish the status of Appolinaire’s nationality.
Sources within the Rwandese Community living in Zambia told News diggers that Appolinaire is one of the established Rwandese nationals conducting businesses in the townships where he owns some grocery shops.
When contacted, Monday, Appolinaire confirmed being the person named in the Maj Sankara court trial, but said he had been unwell since January when he suffered a stroke.
“I have been very sick from January. I had a stroke, so I am not yet functional. Maybe at a later stage, I don’t know when I will be doing my test again by the end of next month to see if I am available to start work again, then we can communicate later,” he said.
When informed that the aim of the interview was to help him clear his name following allegations that came from a court case in which he was implicated in Rwanda, Appolinaire insisted that he was unwell and not in a position to comment further on the matter.
“But sir, for the past seven months I have been down. I heard those things, people came to visit me, but I don’t even watch TV, I don’t follow the news, but once I am fine, we will talk later when I am in position to talk. I am not… I am heard those, but I am not able to read again so it’s a difficult situation for me,” said Appolinaire.
Asked “what is your relationship with the President of Zambia, are you close?” Appolinaire cut the line and became unresponsive thereafter.