Former Ministry of Energy permanent secretary Brigadier General Emeldah Chola has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) and GBMS Engineering Company implementing a government digitalisation project at the department was not cleared by the Attorney General as per government procedure.

She testified that the Memorandum of Understanding was illegal, adding that she was not aware of it as it had not gone through her office as per government procedure.

In this matter, former ZMD director Jacob Nkomoki, former deputy director Joseph Kanyanga, and senior directors at ZMD Mukufute Mukelebai and Overseas Mwangase, are facing two counts of corrupt practices and abuse of authority.

In count one, it is alleged that between July 1, 2014 and November 31, 2015 in Lusaka, the four, being public officers namely directors and senior officers at ZMD, corruptly solicited for 12,459 euros each.

It is alleged that the money was gratification from GBMS as an inducement or reward for them to sign the completion statements for the works that were awarded to GBMS based on contract number BMZID 2011997672.

In count two, they are alleged to have abused their authority in the manner they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GBMS.

When the matter came up before chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale for trial, Tuesday, Brig Gen Chola told the court that on December 28, 2015, officers from the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) approached her to find out if she was aware of a contract between the ministry and GBMS.

She said officers also wanted to find about an MoU between ZMD and GBMS engineering.

Brig Gen Chola said she told the officers that she was aware of the contract and further highlighted to them that the contract was between the Ministry as a client and GBM as the service provider for digitalisation of hydrological and meteorological data.

She, however, told the court that she was not aware of the MoU between the department and GBMS engineering.

Brig Gen Chola said the reason she was not aware was because the MoU had not gone through her office as per government procedure.

She added that the MoU was not signed by the PS but by the officers from the ZMD.

Brig Gen Chola testified that she noticed that the MoU was for ZMD personnel to undertake some works in the digitalisation of meteorological data contract, adding that the format of the MoU was not as per government standard because it was not on headed paper and had no cover page.

“My observations were that the MoU was contrary to clause 3.2.3 in the contract which prohibited public employees to undertake any activities in the contract. The MoU was illegal,” she told the court.

The witness said she then gave ACC the contract.

Asked by the defence in cross examination if she was aware of a letter from a director of water affairs in the ministry giving ZMD a go ahead to undertake the works in the contract, the witness responded in the affirmative.

The matter comes up on January 15, 2020 for continued trial.