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How suspended ZRA employees implicated their boss in smuggling allegationsBy Mukosha Funga on 6 Jun 2019
A recorded phone conversation has leaked in which the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda is heard telling a PF cadre, identified as Chanda Nyela, that those who attempt to smuggle goods into the country should at least tell him first so that he sees if he can help, other than expecting him to intervene after they have already been caught.
Chanda is also heard in the same audio saying that it is hard to know if the smuggled goods are for PF or UPND members, adding that he may not be able to save the ZRA employees accused of abetting smuggling, even if they are his tribes-mate, linked to the ruling party.
But when contacted to clarify, yesterday, the ZRA commissioner General said some frustrated clearing agents and customs officers were trying to injure his reputation in reaction to a new mechanism that the Authority has put in place to curb smuggling.
And News Diggers has learnt that Chanda was implicated by a group of 10 ZRA employees who were recently involved in a smuggling scandal in Livingstone, after noticing his reluctance to intervene in their case.
Sources involved in the investigation narrated to News Diggers that there is a scheme among some ZRA employees who want Chanda out of office on claims that, among other things, he is using his office to push business for his former clearing and forwarding company called Nishati, which is now allegedly owned by his relatives, while making it hard for other employees to cut deals.
The informers explained that around April this year, some ZRA customs officers working at the border in Livingstone were suspended after they attempted to illegally clear trucks which were entering Zambia from Nakonde border.
“We had trucks that were coming into Zambia. These ten employees who have been suspended were working in Livingstone. Now our system has a chain process, whereby someone has to enter the particulars of the imported or transiting goods into the system, someone else has to physically inspect and approve, another supervisor also inspects the records entered and the goods being imported. Now about 10 ZRA employees are believed to have worked together in clearing these goods for entry and they issued the certificate of clearance for the trucks, indicating that the goods were entering from Livingstone and they inspected them,” the sources narrated.
“But it turned out that these trucks which were purported to have been inspected and cleared for entry through Livingstone, were actually on the Tanzanian side at the border in Nakonde, trying to enter Zambia from there. What they did is that after clearing these trucks, they moved the clearance certificate and other accompanying documents to Nakonde for the gate keeper there to grant them passage. Luckily, this person in charge at the gate that day was vigilant and after scrutinising the fine print, he realised that the code indicated was for Livingstone and not Nakonde. When he went to raise the issue with the customs office in Nakonde, it was discovered that the documents were not released from that office.”
The sources narrated that the suspended employees are believed to have used the PF cadre, Nyela, to record Chanda in a phone conversation which they then leaked.
“When an inquiry was raised with Livingstone customs office, those 10 officers insisted, claiming that they cleared the trucks from Livingstone, but could not explain how the trucks which they inspected found themselves on the Tanzanian side of the Nakonde Border. That is how they were cornered and immediately suspended for abetting smuggling. According to the records, this was done to evade duty on the goods that were being imported, because according to the COMESA/SADC protocol, there are certain waivers on excise duty for products that were manufactured in South Africa, for example. So that is what they were trying to evade in Nakonde by faking the entry point for the trucks,” narrated the sources.
“This is what led to this recording. Following the suspension of these customs officers, there has been manoeuvres to kill the matter and let everyone off the hook, but that has not been possible. So, it so happened that one of the 10 employees who is named in the audio, has some strong political connections. This is the person who now engaged the said Chanda Nyela to help lobby the Commissioner General, Kingsley Chanda, to intervene.”
Take a listen:
Below is how the recorded phone conversation went between PF cadre, Nyela, and ZRA Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda.
Nyela: Ba mashina (my namesake)
Nyela: Mwa bombeni? (How’s been your day?)
Chanda: Eya mukwai mwa bombeni (very well, how about yourself?)
Nyela: Ah, tule shimpa shimpa (We are trying)
Chanda: Eya mukwai, ni ba nani nde landa nabo? (okay, who am I speaking to?)
Nyela: It’s Chanda Nyela
Chanda: Yes Chanda
Nyela: Nacimi tumina message pa WhatsApp. Kuliko ka issue, bululu wesu akwete ku mwenu uko, mu bomba nankwe (I had sent you a message on WhatsApp. There’s a small issue involving our relative who works with you)
Chanda: Okay, nshilipo (I am not within), I am out of the country but nalipokele report ati kwaliba abantu abapoka ifintu ifyalepita ku Nakonde, but bena balecita clear ku Livingstone. Ba panga nama inspections kwati nabafimona. So nshinshibe nga ni case yakwe iyo? (I recieved a report that there were some officers who received goods that were coming through Nakonde but they were cleared from Livingstone. They were even pretending as if they have inspected the goods. So I don’t know if that’s the case he is involved in?)
Nyela: Chilemoneka limbi eyo. Ni Moses Chintwa, mwina Chinsali umunensu. (It seems so, his name is Moses Chintwa, he is also from Chinsali, he is our relative)
Chanda: Eh? Nomba nga acitile so kuti mwachita shani? Kuti wamona ifintu ifishiliko? (But if he did that what can we do? Can you inspect goods which are not there?)
Nyela: Ala kwena mukalamba wandi (imagine my elder brother).
Chanda: Elo nga mwabapususha, elo bakatila shani? Kuti balanda shani? Ati iyo, uyu muntu pantu ali mwina Chinsali, wakwa lenshina alamona nefi shi liko? (And if you rescue him, what will he say? They will say that ‘no, he’s just been released because he is from Chinsali. Or because he is from Lenshina he can see what is not there?
Chanda: Uyo wine Moses Chintwa naine bakesa tutamfishafye pamo, bakabikepo naba UPND. (That same Moses Chintwa and I, they will come and chase us together then they will put someone aligned to UPND)
Nyela: Eh kwena (Yes, indeed)
Chanda: aba abantu nangu tule baafwa, imwe mwebali kuntanshi mweh ntungulushi, nga tule baafwa abantu aba, mule beba ati aweh bane, iseni tulecita ifintu ifyaba right. But nga kuli efyo mulefwaya ukucita ifya bufufuntungu, mwa ebako Commissoner General pantu Commissoner General nankwe muntu wesu. Nawo wa mucipani nga ifwebene (These people even though we are helping them, you who are in the political leadership, you must be telling them to do right things. But if there is anything dubious they want to do, they should first tell me as Commissioner General, because I am also a member of the ruling party)
Nyela: Efyo mbeba ifyo fine. Ewa cipani number one. (That’s what I tell them that you are number one member of the party).
Chanda: Mwamwebako Commissioner General so that aishiba amona emo asengulwila (You tell the Commissioner General so that he knows and sees how he can work around the issue).
Nyela: Eh mukwai (Yes sir).
Chanda: Kuli abantu bambi nabena abantu benu abaleleta ifintu ati agriculture products kanshi niba salaula. Nomba nga mwabekata baya mukuilishanya ati, ‘aleikata ba PF’. Nomba tukeishiba shani ati ifi bacita smuggle fya Ba PF nangu Ba UPND? (There are some of your PF people who bring second hand clothes claiming that it is agriculture products. When they are caught, they go to complain that we are catching PF members, but how can we know that these smuggled goods are for PF or they are for UPND?)
Nyela: Aweh mukwai, teti mwishibe (No you cant’s know).
Chanda: Elo nga mwamona ama agents balebomfya, ama agents bale bomfya ma agents yaba UPND. (And when you look at the agents they are using, these are agents for the UPND).
Nyela: Iyeh!! (expresses shock)
Chanda: Yes! Ama agents abengi abalecita filya ifya ethanol na cooking oil, yaba UPND. Na mwishiba, limo tule mona pacalo, ifya citile balya bashikulu, after you sent me that message I said “before I respond to my brother, let him know the truth”. Aweh balya ba shikulu bantu efyo balecita fyabu kalushabuli. Nangu fye bakateka nga baliishibe teti batemwe. So nshishibe efyo mwingacita because bali 10 ka? (The agents they used on that ethanal and cooking oil issue were for UPND. You know, sometimes we must be observing what is happening in the country. What that man did is very bad. If the President heard about this he cannot be happy. So I don’t know what you can do, because they are 10.
Nyela: Bali 10 bonse pamo? (They are ten all together?)
Chanda: Bali 10 so nomba nshishibe efyo twala fumyapo mwina Chinsali ati aweh, iwe tawalufyenye, abalufyenye ni aba. Lekeni bapite mu process tumone ama arguments nefyo ba disciplinary committee bala landa. (Yes they are 10. So I don’t know how we will remove one person from Chinsali and say, ‘you did nothing wrong, it’s the rest who were wrong’. Let them go through the process, we hear their arguments and see what the disciplinary committee will say.)
Chanda: nga ba pita mu process, elo tungeshiba. Pantu inoshita mwandini, efyo ba citile balya bashikulu bantu fyabu kalushabuli. Nngu fye mulefwaya naine nabena bakatu tamfisha pamo. (After the disciplinary process that’s when we can see. But this time, what they did is very bad. If you people want you will come and chase me together with him.)
Nyela: Ah, nomba nga bamitamfya uukaikatilila ico icintu niyani? Teti njeshe nokwesha. It’s better umo aya, imwe mwashala. Amenso tukwete ni mweh. (Now if you are fired, who will remain in charge of that institution? We can’t allow that, it’s better he goes you remain because you are our eyes.)
Chanda: echo ndepapa. So nacimona Ati before na asuka mashina, mbone efyo chili. Nabepusha bantumina na file. Namona efyo bachitile, kwena, tafyali bwino, fya muselu. So lekeni fi cite progress kaili ilya bacitile attend ni first disciplinary hearing. Iya next, tukamona depending on what the recommendations will be. (That’s what is surprising me. So that’s why I said before I respond to my namesake’s message, let me see what happened. When I asked, they sent me the file and I found that what he did that man was very bad. So let the case progress because what they attended was the first disciplinary hearing, then after the next hearing, we will see what can be done depending on the recommendations”.
Nyela: Eh mukwai. Mukalamba wandi, Lesa apale, kalebalika mukwai (My elder brother, my God bless you, let it shine on you).
According to the source, upon noticing Chanda’s reluctance to intervene, the suspended employee decided to leak the audio of the ZRA boss’ commitment to help when he is told about smuggling in advance.
“From the findings on the ground, it appears after recording the ZRA Commissioner General, Nyela wanted to prove to the suspended employees that he had done his part in engaging the boss, and so he sent the recorded audio. But after seeing that the boss was not keen to help, the suspended employees decided to leak Nyela’s audio so that they go down with the ZRA Commissioner General,” said the sources.
Yesterday, another audio surfaced in which Nyela is heard insulting the suspended employees for betraying him after he shared Chanda’s recording with them.
Take a listen:
When contacted, Chanda said there was a revolt among some clearing agents and customs officers because of the new mechanisms that the Authority has put in place to curb smuggling, and the affected parties were trying to injure him through malice.
“I can guarantee you that all this malice and reaction from both clearing agents and our officers is because of our new approach to stopping smuggling by agents and officers. As a result customs revenues have increased exponentially. I will always do the right thing for my country despite the malice. Fired officers are hurt and are bound to say anything. What is worse is that I do not even run customs directly. I have commissioners and directors. I deal with policy. My policy now is no corruption and no smuggling,” said Chanda in response to a press query.
About Mukosha Funga
Mukosha Funga is a Zambian journalist interested in good governance and anti corruption reporting.
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