We agree with Mike Mulongoti who says Zambians must pay attention to the corrupt deals that Chishimba Kambwili is exposing now that he has been kicked out of government. It is possible that when his blood pressure calms down, Kambwili may not be able to say all the things that he is saying about the PF government. Therefore, we as Zambians must take interest in the information that he is volunteering. As Kambwili comes to us seeking comfort in his predicament, let’s listen to his cries with one ear while the other focuses on the dossiers he seems to have on those he has left in government.
Barely two days after he was expelled from the ruling party, the Roan member of parliament was already dishing out incriminating information on some of the deals that took place while he was a full Cabinet minister. There are several issues that Kambwili has raised so far, but one has caught our attention and we feel his claims deserve a detailed explanation from those he is accusing.
On Monday July 25, 2017, Chishimba Kambwili made the following claim:
“We spent $9 million dollars for phase one of the digital migration programme, but to migrate the remaining six provinces, we are going to spend $273 million. I did not play a role in the digital migration. In fact, when a decision was made to single source, that’s the time that I washed my hands. So those who think I have anything to do with digital migration, I have nothing to do with it. I will tell you something for nothing; the Minister of Information is also Chief Government spokesperson. When the President is travelling, he usually travels with the Minister of Information, but in the one year that I was Minister of Information, I never travelled not even one trip with His Excellency the President. Not even one trip did I travel outside the borders of Zambia with the President. And to make matters worse, they went to discuss that digital migration [deal] in China and instead of taking me, he took the Director General of ZNBC and the Permanent Secretary.”
As a country, we have the right to question Kambwili why he did not raise this issue while he was still chewing with those that he is now accusing. We could ask him why his wisdom did not direct him to the Zambian people when this was happening. But we all know this is Africa and we will be wasting time on that path. It is obvious that not only was Kambwili scared of questioning his appointing authority at that time, but truth be told – the minister was too busy getting fatter then. He was preoccupied with his own deals and he had no time for reporting any corruption.
Well, they say Karma is always watching, and once again, there is no need of kicking a man who is already on the ground. Instead, we would like to turn our attention to those that are still getting fat inside government, those that Kambwili is accusing of pushing the Digital Migration agenda. In the claim above, Kambwili says he washed his hands on the deal when he heard that it was going to be single sourced. He further says President Lungu went to discuss the Top Star deal in China with the director general of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and the Permanent Secretary, leaving him behind.
Here is what we know about this Digital Migration deal. Mr Kambwili says it was single sourced, but when signing it, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting PS Godfrey Malama said, “the contract comes as a result of all the tender processes and procedures that the Ministry satisfied and the deal has been cleared by the Attorney General.”
Who is saying the truth? We will not be surprised if another government official stands up to defend those who are being accused, by saying government sought clearance from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority to single-source. In this government, certain things seem to happen in reverse; it is possible that the single sourcing was already done and the ZPPA is now about to issue the authority to do so after Kambwili has blown the whistle.
Kambwili further says phase one of the digital migration programme cost about US$9 million, but the country will spend US$273,154,281 for the remaining six provinces. Why? How?
Again, here is what we know about phase one of the Digital Migration programme, according to the information given by the Ministry to Parliament: “It was completed by November 2015 and it is running along the line of rail from Chililabombwe to Livingstone.”
When contracting a loan for phase two and three of the programme in China, Mr Malama said the US$273,154,281 would be spent on “the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of digital terrestrial broadcasting equipment. Supply, delivery, and installation of studio equipment for Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Zambia National Information Services (ZANIS). This will also include the supply of 1, 250, 000 customer receiving units (decoders, antennas and dishes) and ten (10) new provincial broadcasting stations that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) is establishing.”
We may not be qualified enough to argue whether this was a ZNBC and ZANIS upgrade loan or it was a digital migration deal. However, we would like to ask why phase one of the same programme was done without needing all this money to buy all this digital broadcasting equipment. Phase one is up and running, people are watching digital ZNBC in areas along the line of rail. How was this made possible without all this equipment? This is simple mathematics. The difference between US$9 million and US$273 million is US$264. Even if there were ten more phases to migrate the remaining parts of the country, that would only cost about US$100 million. Where is the rest of the US$100 million plus going to go? What is it going to be spent on? Perhaps the Ministry of Information must publish the breakdown of how this money will be spent. We insist because this is a loan, and Zambian taxpayers will pay for it, one way or another. Who is the true beneficiary of this loan which is coming to construct customer care centers for ZNBC and Top Star?
The people Kambwili is accusing of pushing this agenda are not dead. They are actually still holding the same offices. Can they explain to the Zambian people and the Auditor General in advance, who will pay for this loan, which stinks corruption? The challenge is on you President Lungu, Mr Malama and the ZNBC director general; the man you left behind on that flight to China is knocking on your door, he wants answers.