FORMER Zambia Railways Limited chief executive officer Clive Chirwa and his former finance director Regina Mwale have pleaded not guilty to three counts of corruption in the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court.
This is in a matter in which Chirwa, 58, of plot 206/101 Ibex Hill in Lusaka, and Mwale, 50, of 5 Chavuma Road, Highridge, Kabwe, are charged with corruption and abuse of authority of office contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
When the matter came up for plea before magistrate Obbister Musukwa, Chirwa said he understood the charge in the first count but denied committing the offence.
Defence counsel Mulilo Kabesha raised a preliminary issue before plea was taken in the second and third counts saying that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Mr Kabesha said it would be convenient for his client (Mwale) to be tried in Kabwe and asked the court to transfer the matter.
“It is our prayer that this court evokes Section 77 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia to transfer the trial in reference to counts two and three,” Mr Kabesha said.
Chirwa’s lawyers said they had no objection to the jurisdiction of the court.
The state objected to Mr Kabesha’s application saying it is on convenience only and that Section 69 of the CPC does not only apply to the place where the offence was committed but where an accused person was apprehended.
They argued that only the High Court had jurisdiction to transfer the matter and that Section 77 of the CPC relied on by defence counsel did not apply to the circumstances in court saying what was under consideration was the place of trial and not the place of complaint.
Delivering his ruling, magistrate Musukwa dismissed the application saying the matter was properly before the court and continued to enter plea for the accused persons.
Chirwa is charged in the first count with failure to disclose interest contrary to section 28 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act number 3 of 2012.
It is alleged that Chirwa on dates unknown but between November 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 in Lusaka, being a public officer, namely CEO of Zambia Railways Limited, did recommend at the Zambia Railways board meeting that Clavel Incorporation Limited, a company in which he is an officer and shareholder, be given a contract to train employees of the railway company without disclosing his interest.
In count two, Chirwa and Mwale are charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to section 21 (1) a of the ACC Act number 3 of 2012.
It is alleged that the duo between February 1 and March 2, 2013 in Kabwe being public officers, namely chief executive officer and finance director respectively of Zambia Railways Limited, jointly and whilst acting together did abuse authority of their offices by authorising the payment of K72,282, 210 to Fallsway apartments for Chirwa’s accommodation, an amount which was beyond his entitlement.
The act is said to be arbitrary and prejudicial to the rights and interests of the Zambian government.
The duo are in the third count charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to section 21(1) a of the ACC Act number 3 of 2012.
The particulars are similar to those in the second count.
Trial has been set for January 15, 2014.