By MUKWIMA CHILALA and ADRIAN MWANZA
F ORMER Sports Minister Emmanuel Mulenga has accused the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) of drawing former republican President Edgar Chagwa Lungu in all their discussions and has advised them to stop because it was an abuse of their authority.
And former Disaster Management Mitigation Unit (DMMU) National Coordinator Chanda Kabwe has accused the committee of predetermining outcomes and demeaning witnesses.
Mr Mulenga, who appeared before the PAC said the former President should not be mentioned in any procurement of tankers because he had no input in that.
He said Mr Lungu did not instruct him to increase the number of fuel tankers for the Youth Empowerment Programme from 35 to 50 as alleged by the ministry’s former Youth Director Tiza Nkumbula.
Mr Mulenga said the former head of State had never at anytime directed him to increase the number of fuel tankers and rebutted claims by the former controlling officer, Mr Joe Kapembwa that Mr Lungu was the one calling the shots in the procurement of the fuel tankers.
He told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee that it was not a minister’s job to monitor the procurement system in the ministry because the government had a laid down composition of the procurement committee.
Mr Mulenga refuted assertions that he was involved in the procurement of 50 fuel tankers for the Youth Empowerment Programme.
He challenged Mr Kapembwa to produce evidence that he received orders to single source the acquisition of 100 mechanical horses and fuel tankers at a cost of over K180 million from Kinglong Motors (Z) Limited, a subsidiary of Higer Bus Limited meant to be distributed to identified youth groups.
“ I want to refute allegations that I was instructed by former President Edgar Lungu to increase the number of fuel tankers for the Youth Empowerment Programme from 35 to 50 as alleged by the ministry’s former Youth Director Tiza Nkumbula,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said it was unfair that the former PS and Ms Nkumbula were implicating him in the procurement of fuel tankers and challenged them to produce evidence that the former president was part and parcel of the whole deal.
Meanwhile, there was drama in the PAC when Mr Kabwe challenged the committee to hand him over to the relevant authorities over the purchase of reusable face masks.
Mr Kabwe, who at one point walked out of the committee meeting in agitation said the members wanted to demean and embarrass him for the over procurement of facemasks. By the DMMU.
“I’m ready to pay the price if I did not follow the correct procedure when purchasing reusable facemasks and if the committee can recommend that I be arrested, I’m ready to take the fall,” he said.
Mr Kabwe warned the committee members that he was a human being who had feelings and would react if they continued with the abuse they were subjecting him to.
Mr Kabwe reacted sharply when Senanga Member of Parliament Likando Mufalali questioned if he knew what he was doing by virtue of being in that office.
He said that he would not condone being demeaned and that he only appeared before the committee out of respect and not that it was mandatory.
“That comment does not sit well with me because the DMMU has systems and there is no way that I can impose what I want. I’m no longer at the DMMU, my brother Dr Gabriel Pollen is now in charge but he cannot jump the gun because there is protocol,” he said.
Mr Kabwe said they had not planned for the Covid-19 pandemic which meant they had to make impromptu decisions to save lives in the country and that was the reason they did not advertise normally but just made a public announcement to invite people to come forward.
He said the issue of not giving tenders over the procurement was that the situation was dicey and that they acted critically looking at the situation.
Mr Kabwe said that a good example was the recent evacuation of students from Ukraine which needed instant reaction from the government because had they waited a while longer the results would have been disastrous.