Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Rueben Lifuka says instead of the RTSA chief executive officer Zindaba Soko merely taking leave from office, he should be formally suspended for the duration of the court proceedings.
And Lifuka says it not financially prudent for a substantive CEO to be on leave while attending to his case and drawing full benefits from his office.
Last month, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) raided Soko’s house searching for undisclosed items as part of its investigation process on his case.
Soko is suspected to have received a kickback form a private company that was awarded a tender to supply speed cameras.
On Tuesday, DEC sources told News Diggers that Soko and IMS board chairman Walid El Nahas had actually been arrested and released on police bond.
The sources said the commission did not want to make the arrests public as they were still investigating other individuals linked to the same case.
And on Tuesday evening, Transport and Communications Minister Dr Brian Mushimba revealed in a statement that Soko had written to his ministry requesting for permission to take leave and pave way for smooth investigations on his case, which the minister granted him.
But in a statement, Wednesday, Lifuka asked Dr Mushimba to immediately suspend Soko.
“Following new developments indicating the formal arrest by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) of Mr. Zindaba Soko – the RTSA CEO for money laundering related charges, it is now our considered view that the position of Mr Soko as RTSA CEO is no longer tenable and instead of him merely taking leave as earlier suggested, he should now be formally suspended for the duration of the court proceedings. We take cognizance of the fact that this has been the standard practice applied to public servants who have been arrested for various offenses and we do not see why Mr. Soko’s case should be handled any differently. The Minister of Transport and Communication should ensure that the suspension of Mr. Soko is effected forthwith, there should be no sacred cows in this process,” Lifuka stated.
He stated that it was not financially prudent for a substantive CEO to be on leave while attending to his case, drawing full benefits of his office.
“We find it inconceivable that Mr Soko can purportedly take leave for the entire duration of this court process for which no one has an idea of how long it would take. It will not be financially prudent for a substantive CEO to be on leave while attending to his case, drawing full benefits of his office, while effectively making it difficult for someone else to be appointed to serve in this important role. The work of RTSA should not ground to a halt for any reason at all,” Lifuka stated.
Meanwhile, Lifuka also asked Dr Mushimba to appoint a board for RTSA.
“May we also take advantage of this incident to call upon the Minister to ensure that RTSA has a Board of Directors in place, ordinarily, Mr Soko’s case should have been handled by the Board and not the Minister. The good corporate governance practices that the Minister was talking about, start with having a Board of Directors in place to ensure oversight of the operations of RTSA. There is no cogent explanation why the Board which was dissolved about a year ago, has not been replaced by the Minister. Such lapses in corporate governance could have serious ramifications on the operations of the agency,” he stated.
Lifuka also appealed to government to thoroughly review the concession agreement with Intelligent Mobility Solutions for the Road Safety Management System following a public outcry on the manner the agreement was consummated.
“We also wish to call on Government to undertake a thorough review of the concession agreement with Intelligent Mobility Solutions for the Road Safety Management System. This agreement should be terminated in the event that allegations of money laundering are proved to be true. There has been a lot of public outcry at the manner in which this Public-Private Partnership was consummated as well as the full costs of this system. It is time that action is taken to clean up RTSA for the benefit of the ordinary people,” stated Lifuka.