MoU between Met Dept and GBMS didn’t follow procedure, witness tells court

Magistrates Court: File picture

The memorandum of understanding between the Zambia Meteorological Department and GBMS Engineering Limited did not go through the required procedure, a State witness has testified before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.

This is a matter in which former ZMD director Jacob Nkomoki; his deputy Joseph Kanyanga; Mukufute Mukelebai and Overseas Mwangase, all senior officers at ZMD, are facing two counts of corrupt practices and abuse of authority.

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

It is alleged that the money was for gratification from GBMS as an inducement or reward in order 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, Tuesday, Chisanga Mwanza who is senior council in charge of international law and agreements at the Ministry of Justice, narrated that the MoU in question did not have approval from the Attorney General as required by law.

She added that the said MoU would not have been approved given that the agreement was entered into by a department and not the line ministry, among other benchmarks.

“The memorandum of understanding is between the Zambia Meteorological department and was signed by the assistant director and executed in 2014. It is with a private company, GBMS. Having looked at this MOU, we note that it includes matters not usually included in such as financial obligations and the payments of money. Additionally, the MoU was entered by the department which does not have the capacity as opposed to being entered by relevant line ministries which acts on relevant documents and is usually signed by the PS being the principal officer,” said Chanda.

“It should be noted that approval would not have been given by the Attorney General for those reasons. In the event that an MoU has not been approved by the Attorney General, it cannot be entered into. It will be invalid as requirement to gain approval by the Attorney General as provided for in the Constitution.”

During cross examination, Chanda conceded that Nkomoki, Kanyanga and Mukelabai did not sign the MoU.

Chanda, however, declined to agree that the said document was signed by Mwangase because he was acting on instructions from Dr Ngosa Mpamba who was director in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water development and also alleged to be the one who formulated the said MoU.

And a second state witness, Gershom Pile, former technical supervisor at GBMS said while executing the said agreement, he was given data entry clerks at ZMD and the digitized information had to go through Mukelabai who was principal Meteorological officer at the time.

The case has since been adjourned to March 25 for mention and April 15 for continuation of trial.

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