Former Minister, Emerine Kabanshi, was taken back to prison on Friday after the High Court upheld the lower court’s decision to convict her for corruption charges.
Kabanshi, 58, who served as Community Development and Social Services Minister under the Patriotic Front (PF) government was on May 28, 2021 sentenced to two years simple imprisionment on two counts of willful failure to comply with the law, applicable procedure or guideline relating to procurement contrary to Section 34(2)(b) of the Anti-Corruption Act No.3 of 2012 of the Laws of Zambia.
In the first count that between January 1, 2017 and August 21, 2017, Kabanshi, as Minister in the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, willfully failed to comply with the law, applicable procedure or guidelines relating to procurement in engaging Zambia Postal Services Corporation as a payment service provider for the Social Cash Transfer programme.
In the second count, the convict between August 21, 2017 and April 26, 2018, in Lusaka, Kabanshi, being a Minister of Community Development and Social Services, willfully failed to comply with the law, applicable procedure or guideline relating to procurement in amending the contract between the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and the Zambia Postal Services Corporation for the Social Cash Transfer programme.
She, however, pleaded not guilty to the two counts.
Dissatisfied with the Lusaka Magistrate Court’s decision rendered by High Court Judge, Lameck Mwale, who was then Chief Resident Magistrate, the ex-minister was granted K50,000 cash bail pending appeal.
She raised three grounds of appeal contesting the two year sentence that Judge Mwale erred in law and fact when he found her against the weight of evidence adduced by the prosecution.
High Court Judge, Gaudentia Salasini, however, agreed with the decision of the lower court stating that the convict failed to comply with the law in relation to social cash transfer funds.
Justice Salasini dismissed Kabanshi’s argument that she was not the controlling officer as far as the provisions of the constitution.
“Witnesses collaborated with each other and demonstrated that despite not being a controlling officer, the appeallant had acted beyond her constitutional mandate by exerting undue influence.
“The appellant wilfully failed to comply with the law and applicable procedure relating to the procurement of extending the scope of coverage of the contract between the Ministry and Zampost to include three provinces and two districts on the Copperbelt under the social cash transfer programme. When she assumed the functions of the procurement committee by directly involving herself in the implementation of the contract for payment for social cash transfer beneficiaries,” she said.
The Judge further stated the undisputed evidence showed that she exerted undue influence when she directed her surbordinates to write a letter to Zampost rescinding the termination of the contract in total disregard of the Cabinet handbook rules of 2010 which makes it mandatory for the Attorney-General to be consulted on any proposed administrative functions which might be subject of challenge.
“I therefore uphold the decision of the lower Court in both counts and dismiss the appeal. Leave to appeal is granted. I order that the appellant will serve her sentence forthwith,” she ruled.
Britain, Finland, Ireland and Sweden withheld nearly $34 million in aid to Zambia’s social welfare and education sectors in 2018 because of concern over financial mismanagement.
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