The Young African Leaders Initiative says President Edgar Lungu must suspend Stephen Kampyongo from Cabinet and set up an inquiry to probe the purchase of fire tenders.

In a statement issued today, YALI president Andrew Ntewewe stated that President Lungu’s lukewarm approach to addressing the fraudulent transaction was worrisome.

“We urge President Lungu to take firm action now and demonstrate his willingness to take on the very real challenge posed by corruption. YALI no longer considers it sufficient for the President to refer the matter to his failing ‘investigative wings’; the president himself must take the first steps by: 1. Suspending Mr Stephen Kampyongo from Cabinet. Mr Kampyongo was minister responsible for this procurement as minister of Local Government and Housing at the time; 2. Suspending the Permanent Secretary at the ministry of Local Government and Housing at the material time; 3. Suspending the CEO of the Zambia Public Procurement Authority at the time; and 4. Appoint the Honourable Chief Justice to head a time-bound Commission of Inquiry with a clear mandate to get to the bottom of this scandal
YALI will take other steps if the President fails to act,” Ntewewe stated.

“YALI is challenging the President, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, to establish the facts in the obviously corrupt procurement of 42 fire engines by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing in 2016. YALI further calls upon the President to set up a commission of inquiry to be headed by the Chief Justice since it appears that our own Anti-Corruption Commission is lacking in terms of both the will and expertise to follow the financial trail and inform the public as to who the beneficiaries were in the US$42 million firegate scandal. It is quite obvious that the claimed purchase price of US$1 million per truck is patently false, fraudulent and calls for those involved in this corrupt transaction, to face the law.”

He stated that the ACC had left many questions unanswered.

“The revelation by Anti-Corruption Commission that it closed its investigations after they arrived at a conclusion that processes and procedures were followed in the award of the tender for the 42 fire trucks, does not answer the question as to whether the claimed purchase price was genuine, and if not, whether the Commission had financial investigators competent enough to follow the money trail and establish culpability. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the ACC is either incapacitated or compromised to follow the money trail in this $42m fire trucks scandal,” Ntewewe stated.

“YALI calls on President Lungu to move out of his comfort zone and show loyalty to the citizens of this country, who put him in office, instead of a few individuals to whom he may feel indebted in his position as PF party president. The President must therefore establish the facts and bring the culprits to book regardless of what they may have done for him within PF; His lukewarm attitude and approach in addressing this very serious matter, is a matter of grave concern to YALI and to all Zambians concerned about corruption. It is our view that if the President is genuinely concerned about this particular matter, of the procurement of these 42 fire engines, he should by now have taken steps to ask for assistance from cooperating partners to help our investigative wings unveil the financial trail which would lead to the truth of what happened, to the recovery of the resources fraudulently taken and to appropriate action being taken against the culprits.”

He described the ACC’s call for evidence as a mockery.

“YALI stands firm in asserting that President Lungu has an unshrinkable duty to protect our nation’s resources and therefore has a duty to get to the bottom of this fire engine scandal, deal with those found culpable and recover the money so wantonly wasted in this obviously fraudulent procurement. Zambians will not allow the President to escape this issue by referring it to the obviously compromised investigative wings. In the meantime, YALI calls upon all Zambians to dismiss with contempt, the call by the Anti-Corruption Commission for citizens to make available to it (ACC) ‘any new information’ with regard to this fraud,” stated Ntewewe.

“This matter was previously referred to the ACC before the procurement was finalised, but the ACC did not see fit to investigate any further than the procedures. YALI therefore considers the ACC call for public co-operation, a mockery. One former minister is on the airwaves daily, stating unequivocally, that he has solid evidence of this fraud; why hasn’t the ACC invited him to make that evidence available to them for action? Further, we remind the ACC that the president of the Forum for Democracy and Development, Madam Edith Nawakwi, as far back as 20th January 2016, raised this issue in which she accused a certain party of “pocketing US$30m” from this transaction. The ACC took its usual lukewarm approach and the matter went unattended.”