Information and Broadcasting Minister Kampamba Mulenga says her predecessor Chishimba Kambwili is still under oath and cannot be disclosing classified government information in the manner he is doing.
And Mulenga says it is true that the Digital Migration contract was single-sourced, but with authority from ZPPA, adding that the US$273 million loan involved had not yet been released by the lender.
In an interview with News Diggers! Mulenga said although Kambwili was fired from government, he remained under oath of secrecy.
“As Minister, he swore the oath of secrecy, so for him to come and talk about internal matters in the public, a senior member of society, it makes a sad reading. Who says that the oath of secrecy expires when you are expelled? That is why you swear. The oath of secrecy does not expire even when one dies,” Mulenga said.
“And this US$273 million is the correct figure and has a lot of components just as I mentioned. There is phase two and phase three. So let us not look at this 273 million dollars and think that this is a huge amount and think that government misuse resources. How much is one provincial studio costing? With all the equipment?”
She said there was nothing irregular about the single-sourcing of the Digital Migration tender.
“How can he say that Top Star was single sourced? You see people will just lose credibility in Honorable Chishimba Kambwili because Honorable Kambwili was Minister of information and all these things were happening right under his nose, why did he have to wait to be fired for him to come and speak out like that?” Mulenga asked.
“The issue of the single sourcing that honorable Kambwili is talking about, there is nothing irregular about it because there is a process and the Ministry has obtained a no objection from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA). So for him to come and say that there was something irregular over the matter when the Ministry had no objection from ZPPA which he was very very aware.”
She further said Kambwili was involved in the digital migration deal.
“Ministers cannot be involved in the entire process because he is not a technocrat. But if he saw irregularities in the tender process, he should have spoken up, why speak now. And it is very well known, he attended digital migration seminars in China. He cannot say that he was left out and only the PS and the ZNBC DG accompanied the President, it is not true, Honorable Kambwili has been to these digital migration seminars and sponsored by Star times, on several occasions.”
“When this digital migration was starting, Honorable Chishimba Kambwili was still Minister and he is very much aware and he was part and parcel of the process and we know that digital migration is a requirement. In the 9million he is talking about was for the phase one which entails the installation of towers, the second phase and third phase of digital migration entails that we are going to now put up transmitters, we are also going to put up provincial broadcasting studios, state of the art equipment and there is evaluation.”
Mulenga said the US273 million Dollars for phase two and three of digital migration was not a debt to be paid from government coffers but by Top Star and ZNBC.
“We just launched and cabinet approved it almost a month and half ago and we are trying to build the industry. The 9 million dollars which Honorable Kambwili is talking about just entails us setting up the transmitters, that is it. But this second and third phase requires us to put up broadcasting studios in all the provincial centres plus rehabilitation of the ZANIS studios and the provincial headquarters here in Lusaka. And it will also entail that we have back-up centres and we will also have transmitters and it will also have a component of decoders,” said Mulenga.
“I just want to make it very clear over this 273 million. This is not a debt that is going to be drawn from government coffers, this is a debt that will be paid by Top Star and ZNBC. So for Honorable Kambwili to come and say why is government spending 273 million US dollars for digital migration, its uncalled for.”
Last week, Kambwili wondered why President Lungu left him behind when going to China to discuss the Digital Migration deal.
He further said he washed his hands when he heard that the contractor was going to be single sourced.
“I did not play a role in the digital migration. In fact, when a decision was made to single source, that’s the time I washed my hands, that’s the time I washed my hands. So those who think I have anything to do with digital migration, I have nothing to do with it. We spent $9 million dollars but to migrate the remaining six provinces, we are going to spend $273 million. That’s all I know,” Kambwili said.
“When the President is traveling, he usually travels with the Minister of Information, in the one year I was Minister of Information, I never traveled not even one trip with His Excellency the President. Not even one trip did I travel outside the borders of Zambia with the President. And to make matters worse, they went to discuss the digital migration in China and instead of taking me, he took the Director General of ZNBC and the permanent secretary and they went to discuss many other issues concerning other ministries, he took the Ministry of Works, he took the Ministry of Agriculture, he took all the ministers that were involved in the sectors that they were going to discuss, I was the only person who was left and I didn’t complain because I don’t complain usually.”