JIMMY CHIBUYE, Lusaka
A LUSAKA Magistrateâ€™s Court has acquitted former Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) chief executive officer Clive Chirwa of charges of corruption and abuse of authority of office involving over K72,000.
The court has, however, convicted former ZRL director for finance and administration Regina Mwale over the same charges and she will be sentenced today.
Professor Chirwa (left) was indicted for recommending to the ZRL board that his company Clavel Incorporation Limited be given a contract to train railway employees but failed to disclose interest.
He was, in counts two and three, jointly charged with Mwale for alleged abuse of authority of office by authorising the payment of K72, 282 to Fallsway Apartments for his accommodation, an amount which was beyond his entitlement.
The offences were allegedly committed between November 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 in Lusaka and between February 1 and March 2, 2013 in Kabwe.
But Ndola principal resident magistrate Obbister Musukwa, sitting in Lusaka, yesterday acquitted Prof Chirwa because the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable double.
â€œI am not satisfied that the prosecution [Anti-Corruption Commission] has proved the allegations against the first accused beyond all reasonable doubt. I, therefore, set him free.
â€œHowever, I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case against accused two [Mwale] of having committed the offence and I convict her accordingly,â€ Mr Musukwa said.
He said in a 76-paged judgement that the prosecution has failed to prove that Prof Chirwa benefited from the proposal that his company should be given a contract to train railway employees.
Mr Musukwa said despite Chirwa staying at an expensive place beyond his entitlement, there is no evidence to show that he directed Mwale to pay Fallsway Apartments over K72,000 for his accommodation.
He said the ZRL board was at liberty to revoke Prof Chirwaâ€™s payments for his accommodation because there was no contract entered into between the Railway company and Fallsway.
Mr Musukwa said the board should have surcharged Prof Chirwa for disregarding with â€œimpunityâ€ its directive to leave the apartments and pursued him to refund the money.
He said the prosecution should have called Prof Chirwaâ€™s secretary to give a proper account of what transpired regarding the payments for accommodation but decided not to.
And Prof Chirwa, who fought back tears, told journalists after the judgement that the three years of going to court for something he did not do had been horrific.
â€œIt is hard to come as a Samaritan to this country to come and help and then only to find that you end up in this position. I came in only for three months but I end up in this position for three years,â€ he said.
Prof Chirwa said he would stay in Zambia to continue imparting the engineering knowledge to Zambiaâ€™s future engineers as he is already lecturing at the Copperbelt University (CBU).
JIMMY CHIBUYE, Lusaka