FORMER agriculture minister Michael Katambo says he bought maize from former tourism minister Ronald Chitotela worth US$406,000 in his individual capacity, adding that the “clean” transactions went through the bank.
On Tuesday, Chitotela sued the Anti-Corruption Commission in the Lusaka High Court seeking a declaration that his State Lodge property which was seized by the commission was legally and genuinely acquired.
Chitotela submitted that he genuinely and legitimately earned incomes used to purchase the said property from maize supplied to Katambo, Nyimba Milling, Jimbara Merchants Limited, loan obtained from INDO Zambia Bank and other legitimate incomes like parliamentary gratuities.
In the documents filed in court, Chitotela submitted that he entered into a contract to supply 2,800 metric tons white non-GMO maize with Katambo for the contract sum of US$406, 000 on March 29, 2018.
And in an interview, Katambo said he bought the maize genuinely and that records at the bank could show the source of that money.
“Yes, I bought maize from him and transactions are clear from the bank. Even the transfer from Michael Katambo’s account to honourable Chitotela’s worth that amount of maize is there in the bank, at the material time and date. I can be agriculture minister, I can buy beans, bananas, maize or anything, I cannot transact because I am agriculture minister? How can [the] Ministry of Agriculture buy maize from honourable Chitotela honestly? The Ministry of Agriculture buys through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). Now, how can the Ministry of Agriculture buy maize in the name of Michael Katambo? That is just my personal business with him. He had maize, I bought maize from him,” Katambo said.
“Honourable Chitotela was selling maize, we bought maize for the farm and transactions are there from the bank, proper, clean transactions. The money was there, go and find out, the money was in the bank. Ask the bank where that money came from. The bank will give you a trace of that money. That is why we are mentioning reputable institutions. We are not telling you kaloba or anything. So, the bank will tell you whether that money is gratuity, whether that money is from the farm, whether it is stolen money, the bank will tell you. You find out, go do your investigative Journalism. I bought maize genuinely and transactions were through the bank. I never paid through the pocket, I paid through the bank and the bank will tell you the source of that money. Clean as a white cloth, clean as snow.”
He insisted that being Minister of Agriculture at the time did not prohibit him from buying maize as an individual and also selling it to generate money.
“Because I am Minister of Agriculture, I cannot buy? I was Minister of Agriculture, I can buy maize and also sell maize to generate money. The Ministry of Agriculture buys maize through FRA, and I am not FRA, I was just a minister, an individual. How can I supply it to the Minister of Agriculture, where is the trace? Go to the Ministry of Agriculture, they will show you. There are all these departments where if I did the transaction with the Ministry, go and find out for yourself. How can I transact with the Ministry of Agriculture honestly? Ba minister batampa ukucita (the minister has started to] transact with the Ministry of Agriculture, surely? Yalifye (it was a) clean business,” said Katambo.