21 Apr 2016 15:50pm
By Faith Sankwasa
KATIMA MULILO, 21 APR (NAMPA) An investigation into alleged mismanagement will soon be instituted at the incomplete Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park (ZWTP).
The audit will investigate alleged financial maladministration, self-enrichment, dubious dealings, nepotism and why ZWTP was operating at a loss despite Government having spent N.dollars 180 million since the project started in 2005.
The park has been temporarily closed, affecting more than 50 jobs.
The ZWTP was to be constructed in three phases phase one comprised ground works, building and formation of campsites and gardens, while phase two and three of the project, which are still outstanding, include the construction of a hotel, floating bar, conference facility, mini-game reserve and wildlife sanctuary.
ZWTP labourers demonstrated on Monday, accusing ZWTP Board chairperson Frans Kwala and his fellow board members of paying themselves sitting allowances of over half a million dollars compared to the previous board that was paid as little as N.dollars 600 in total.
The labourers further accused Kwala of using his law firm, Kwala and Company, which was appointed by the board to do legal secretarial and board meeting minute taking duties, of having been paid a monthly salary of N.dollars 17 250, despite a cheaper company identified.
The workers also claimed that Kwalas lodge situated on the outskirts of Katima Mulilo along the Zambezi River would be in competition with ZWTP.
Kwala told Nampa on Wednesday accusations against him and the board are fabricated and information distorted with a hidden agenda to tarnish his image and company.
Those claims are all lies, pure lies. The board members' sitting fees were all paid out at once, hence the whole hullabaloo of the demonstrators who also do not know that my company was doing services at ZWTP for nine months without payment. I used my offices and resources to conduct these services.
Kwala said his firm was appointed with the consent of the environment and tourism ministry along with the new board members, as he had been doing work for ZWTP for a period of nine months without payment from June 2015 to March 2016.
I would also like to make it clear that I do not own a lodge establishment but that my family owns a bar and restaurant, which has never been in operation due to personal reasons.
I also never sat in any decision-making meeting for my company to be selected to do all it does for ZWTP.
Kwala said there is still so much outstanding work to be done on the project.
This is why us, the new board, is currently busy selecting an audit firm to look into what happened at ZWTP prior to our appointment. Salaries of labourers were paid by Government as ZWTP expenses are too much. Finances are not in good shape.
Kwala, in turn, pointed to a top ZWTP official (name withheld) as the culprit pushing labourers to demonstrate against him, his company and the board members.
He said when the new board was instituted, they established that prices on outsourced services such as putting up DStv satellites and decoders, and sewage draining were inflated and money shared between those agents and the official.
DStv installations costs were inflated to up to N.dollars 11 000, while draining a sewerage pipe was invoiced at N.dollars 30 000. As a chairperson, including my fellow board members, the line minister put faith in us to sort out such messes at the project, Kwala said.
Efforts to obtain comment from the official implicated proved futile as calls to his mobile phone were unsuccessful.