THE Ministry of Home Affairs has apologised to the Japanese government for naming it as a donor of the controversial police bicycles, saying it was a case of “mistaken identity”.

Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Dr Chileshe Mulenga stated that the bicycle which were said to have been donated by the Japanese Embassy were actually received from the Indian government, while the rest were procured from a Chinese company.

Speaking during a briefing in Lusaka, Monday, Dr Mulenga stated that 30 bicycles were donated by the Indian government, while 110 bicycles were part of a larger supply contract between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Poly Technologies INC of China.

“We have decided to have this press briefing in order to clarify a matter, which has been running in the newspaper and even on social media concerning the donation of bicycles to the Zambia Police Service. The Ministry wishes to clarify the details regarding the donation of bicycles; the public should be informed that on 14th August, 2019, the Indian High Commission in Lusaka made a donation of 30 bicycles to the Zambian Police Service at a ceremony officiated by His Excellency, the High Commissioner of India to Zambia,” Dr Mulenga said.

“In addition, the Zambia Police Service received 110 bicycles, which are part of a larger supply contract to the Ministry of Home Affairs consisting of motor vehicles, boats, uniforms and camping equipment and heavy agriculture equipment. The 100 bicycles are part of the camping equipment. The Ministry wishes to apologize for the erroneous reference to the government of Japan as the donor of the 30 bicycles, which were donated by the Indian High Commissioner.”

He added that the contract between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Poly Technologies was signed in 2013 to supply the country with camping equipment units worth US$242 each.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013 signed a contract with Poly Technologies INC for the supply of various equipment for the security department under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Like I pointed out in the statement, the supply contract includes things like uniforms, motor vehicles, some of which you have seen the different departments using, security equipment of various types, boats, camping equipment and, indeed, heavy agriculture equipment for the Zambia Correctional Service. I think for the agriculture equipment, it was handed over about two weeks ago in Kabwe. Poly Technologies incorporated is a company from the People’s Republic of China,” he explained.

“The bicycles are part of camping equipment, so they are a package and the unit cost of each unit of camping equipment is US $242. So, it is like a mathematical set where you have a campus, you have a ruler, you can’t pick one and say this one the value is this; you got to refer to the value of it.”

When asked about why the Ministry delayed in clarifying the matter, Dr Chileshe insisted that the Ministry did not delay, but blamed the officers who were responsible for clarifying the information who did not check their facts before communicating.

“I don’t think it took too long, the problem was that the officers responsible I think were shooting from the hip! They didn’t check their facts before communicating. In future, this might make it very difficult because we might begin deciding that before you answer, get a press query, do research and answer. So, a mistake was obviously made. I thought there was an immediate attempt by the Inspector General of Police (Kakoma Kanganja) to clarify the matter, but his statement was for some reason not believed and the matter continued,” replied Dr Chileshe.

And Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Chalwe Lombe said no negative implications would arise from the miscommunication between the Japanese and Indian governments.

“When the miscommunication was made, an immediate correction was undertaken with the respective governments; in this case, the Embassy of Japan, as well as the High Commission of India. So, in respect of the possible implications, there was none as such because both these countries are actually cooperating partners. It was rarely a case of one opposed to the other. So, these things do happen and we have already rectified both respective cooperating partners,” said Lombe.