A row between Kabwe Central member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube and the council has resulted in the closure of his bus station and his arrest for criminal trespass.
On May 4, Ngulube dragged the Kabwe Municipal Council to court over the irregular engagement of Nshinda Debt Collectors to collect unpaid rates from Kabwe residents on its behalf.
According to the indictment and court documents obtained by News Diggers, the respondents in the matter are Kabwe Town Clerk Ronald Daka, Kabwe Mayor Prince Chileshe, Director legal services Jonah Siwale, Director health Paul Mukuka and all the directors of Nshinda Debt Collectors.
Ngulube accused them of abuse of authority of office and failing to comply with tender procedures.
“And whereas, it is alleged that you Ronald Daka, Prince Chileshe, Jonah Mukope Siwale, Paul Mukuka, All the directors of Nshinda Debt Collectors Limited, on dates unknown between 1st January 2017 and 18th April 2018 at Kabwe in the Kabwe District of the Central Province of the Republic of Zambia jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown did engage in corrupt practices when they awarded a contract for the collection of public funds on behalf of the Kabwe Municipal Council to Nshinda Debt Collectors Limited, a private body with a promise to overprice all services by 10 percent as an inducement for performing works without following the laid down procedures, without reasonable excuse or justification, an act that was prejudicial to the interest of the Kabwe Municipal Council Public body and to the interest of the state,” read the indictment.
“Ronald Daka, Prince Chileshe, Jonah Mukope Siwale, Paul Mukuka are alleged to have abused the authority of office by failing to adhere to the laid down procedures in the Zambia Public Procurement Act number 12 of 2008 prior to the awarding of the contract to collect public funds to Nshinda Debt collectors Limited contrary to the Public Finance Act of 2004, an act that was prejudicial to the interest of the Kabwe Municipal Council a public body and to the state.”
However, when the matter came up before Kabwe magistrate Sebastian Mwenya, Monday, Chileshe, Daka and Mukuka were conspicuously absent claiming they had not yet been served with summons.
The matter was adjourned to June 1.
But in apparent retaliation, the council, through the Town Clerk Ronald Daka, signed a closure order for Sonnet Melodius Building Complex, which houses Sonnet Hypermarket; a transit bus station for long distance vehicles, all operated by Ngulube.
“Reasons for closure: operation of an illegal bus station contrary to the provisions of Section 6(1)(a) of the Markets and Bus Stations Act No 7 of 2007,” read the order which was signed on Daka’s behalf by a council officials.
Heavily armed police then moved in and surrounded the the building around 15:00 hours, Tuesday.
However, Ngulube was in Lusaka when the commotion began and when contacted, he told this reporter that he was on his way to Kabwe to sort out the situation.
Around 15:50, Ngulube’s supporters arrived at the scene in a blue Mitsubishi Canter light truck to show solidarity.
The cadres were carrying picks, shovels, sticks among other weapons.
However, Police intercepted Ngulube a police check point at Prospect Police station on his way to sort out the closure of his business.
After some minutes, journalists were stunned to see Ngulube being led into an unregistered police vehicle.
When asked what was happening, Ngulube said; “I am being arrested for criminal trespass”, before officers barred journalists from asking further questions.
Meanwhile, police had to fire warning shots to disperse Ngulube’s supporters who were still singing his praises at the bus station.
By press time, Ngulube was still in custody whilst police had arrested over 20 of his supporters and a journalist, Wilson Pondamali who was taking pictures at the scene.