2 February 2013

Zambia: Court Frees Former Permanent Secretary Simfukwe

MBALA Member of Parliament (MP) Mwalimu Simfukwe was yesterday acquitted of corruption offences he was alleged to have committed when he served as Northern Province Permanent Secretary.

Kasama Magistrate Kelvin Soma said the State had failed to satisfy the court on the ingredients of the offence for him to put Simfukwe and his co-accused Elias Simukonde on their defence.

Simfukwe of farm number 7070 Mumbwa Road Lusaka was jointly charged with provincial administration senior procurement officer Simukonde, 41, of number 27 Kasama Girls High School.

Particulars of the case were that between May 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 in Kasama, the two authorised a contract of delivery and installation of traffic lights.

The sole contract was split by the duo in abuse of authority of their offices which led to the public service incurring a loss of K118, 492,640.

Magistrate Soma said the prosecution had failed to produce witnesses to prove that Simfukwe had employed favouritism in awarding the contract or show how he benefitted from the proceeds.

"It is also an insult to suggest that other members of the provincial procurement unit (PPU) committee responsible for awarding the contract were merely passengers leaving the process to be bulldozed by accused one and two.

"At no time did the procurement officer and the permanent secretary sit to discuss tender issues and none of the PPU committee members were brought to testify on how the two accused persons before this court abused their authority," he said.

The magistrate pointed out lapses in the way arresting officers had investigated the case.

They had neglected to get statements from individuals and institutions like Kasama Municipal Council that were key to the case.

Simfukwe's sympathisers begun ululating immediately Magistrate Soma said the two were free to go.

Simfukwe who was accompanied by his lawyer Lastone Mwanabo said the acquittal would give him a free conscience.

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