THE State has submitted to the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that three more people will be arrested and jointly charged with former Ministry of Health permanent secretary Kennedy Malama and five others in a case relating to willful failure to comply with applicable law and procedure.
State prosecutor Daniel Ngwira submitted before magistrate Sanford Ngobola that despite consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions being ready, there were further instructions to arrest three more people who will be jointly charged with the accused persons.
In this matter, Dr Malama is jointly charged with Dr Francis Bwalya, a diplomat in Geneva, Switzerland; Dr Muzaza Nthele, a diplomat in Beijing, China; Rebecca Ndhlovu, a farmer; Dr Maximillian Bweupe, a diplomat at the Zambian embassy in Washington DC, US; and Wilson Lungu, a chief procurement officer under the Ministry of Mines.
In the first count, it is alleged that Dr Malama between August 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018, in Lusaka being permanent secretary- Administration at the Ministry of Health, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown willfully failed to comply with applicable procedure or guidelines relating to procurement by terminating contract number MOH/ORD/004/15 between the Ministry of Health and Savenda Management Services Limited for the supply and delivery of 50 basic life support ambulances, supply and delivery of major spare parts for the ambulances, and training of personnel.
In the second count, it is alleged that all the six accused persons between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka, being persons employed in the Ministry of Health, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown willfully failed to comply with applicable procedure or guidelines relating to procurement by approving Ministerial Procurement Committee paper number 131 of 2017.
The paper recommended the use of Limited bidding International as the appropriate method of procurement of the 50 ambulances without providing justifications or reasons in the said paper for use or choice of the method of procurement.
When the matter came up yesterday, the accused persons were all before court and were expected to take plea.
However, after magistrate Ngobola explained the charges to them, the state informed the court that they wanted to arrest three more persons who would be jointly charged with the accused persons.
“We wish to put it on record that consent to prosecute the matter has been brought from the Director of Public Prosecutions but with further instructions to arrest three more persons who shall be jointly charged with the accused persons before you. For that, the State is seeking a short adjournment so as to be able to arrest the other three accused persons,” Ngwira said.
Ngwira said it was their considered view as the prosecution that doing so would enable the matter to proceed into trial with all the accused persons present once plea was taken.
But Lungu’s defence lawyer, Makebi Zulu said although his client had no objection, he was concerned that the matter had delayed.
He said it was clear that the matter was taken to court while investigations were still being undertaken.
“Our client had over the month [being] coming to court while the matter was being investigated. It must be understood that justice delayed is justice denied. The State has not been ready. We reluctantly do not object to the application for the adjournment and we pray that at the next sitting, witnesses should be made available and the matter should proceed,” said Zulu.
Magistrate Ngobola adjourned the matter to April 12 for plea and commencement of trial.