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Chiluba faces another round of cabinet resignations.

Barely five months after several of its founding and influential members left Zambia's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to set up the National Party (see AB October 1993 p14), the government of President Chiluba has been thrown into further disarray with the January resignations of veteran politicians Foreign Minister Vernon Mwaanga, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Sikota Wina and his wife, Community & Social Welfare Minister Mirriam Wina.

Their departure brings to 13 the number of ministers who have left Chiluba's government in the 26 months it has been in power. The three resigned after persistent accusations from their colleagues in government, as well as from opposition leaders and from the privately owned tabloid press, that they were involved in drug trafficking and other vices (see AB February 1994 p18).

The accusations reached a crescendo in December, when Finance Minister Ronald Penza returned from the Consultative Group meeting in Paris and spoke openly of Western pressure on the government to sack those involved.

At his resignation press conference, Mwaanga noted that the campaign against him had been orchestrated by "colleagues in government who are themselves the very epitome of greed and who have used every possible and conceivable opportunity from their first day in government to sustain their insatiable appetite for material possessions".

In a veiled attack on Penza, Mwaanga accused him of obtaining donor grants (without paying any kwacha over up front to date) to prop up his private businesses and of "working out ingenious and highly dubious schemes to revive tottering financial institutions".

Penza and the Japanese grant

Records at Ministry of Finance headquarters indicate that one of Penza's companies, RDS Business Machines, is one of the 45 companies that benefited from a ZK3.6bn ($27m at the time of disbursement in March 1992) Japanese non-project grant aid. The firm was allocated ZK34.8m without paying any kwacha cover up front, as was demanded by the donors. With penalty, the outstanding amount had accumulated to ZK72.1m by 1 January 1994.

Five days after Mwaanga quit, the Winas also tendered their resignations and made more allegations of corruption against their government colleagues. Chiluba tried to limit the damage by releasing a doctored report of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which has investigated allegations of corruption against some of his Ministers.

Michael Sata, who is now Health Minister, has been investigated on at least three occasions. In the first case, when he was Minister of Local Government & Housing, the ACC recommended that he be prosecuted for abuse of office and for corrupt practices. But Attorney-General Ali Hamir advised against prosecuting because the offence carried a fine of only ZK50 (7 US cents).

In the second and third charges, involving awards of contracts and delivery of water to his house by the Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company, no case was found against him.

Penza was investigated on allegations that he had colluded with Steven Mwafulilwa, then Managing Director of the National Import & Export Corporation (NIEC), in the improper importation of goods by NIEC for resale by the trading companies then falling under it. Since the preliminary report presented in March 1993, the ACC has not reported any further developments.

The report exculpated Tourism Minister Christon Tembo of corrupt practices in the granting of safari hunting licences in game-management areas and former Mines Minister Humphrey Mulemba, now Secretary-General of the National Party, of abuse of office.

With Mwaanga's and Mirriam Wina's resignations, observers were expecting Chiluba to perform a major realignment of the Cabinet. In the event, the reshuffle turned out to be a case of playing musical chairs, as only Health Minister Boniface Kawimbo and Deputy Minister for Economic Co-operation Dean Mung'omba lost their jobs, apparently for being too vocal in accusing their colleagues of being involved in drug trafficking.

Former Information Minister Remmy Mushota replaces Mwaanga at Foreign Affairs, while Kabunda Kayongo moves from Education to take over Mirriam Wina's post. Nominated MP William Harrington is the new Minister of Transport & Communications, taking over from Andrew Kashita, who moves to Works & Supply.

Also elevated is Deputy Minister of Tourism Amusa Mwanamwambwa, who is now in charge of Youth, Sport & Child Development. He takes over from Dipak Patel, who moves to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade & Industry.
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Title Annotation:Zambian Pres. Frederick Chiluba
Author:Chiposa, Sylvester
Publication:African Business
Date:Mar 1, 1994
Words:705
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