A Zambian government agency has established that there was corruption involved in the award of a cancelled US$210 million closed circuit television (CCTV) camera contract to China’s ZTE.
The contract was awarded to ZTE in 2011 by senior government officials under a direct agreement, without an open procedure, raising suspicions about corruption. Critics of the project said the costs may have been inflated.
Now the Zambian Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said its investigation of the deal has uncovered evidence that the contract was awarded to the Chinese company by some senior government officials in a corrupt manner.
The CCTV camera project was initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs and involved the installation of security facilities to assist with crime prevention, traffic management and general monitoring on the streets of the capital, Lusaka.
The ACC found evidence of corruption in the manner in which the contract was awarded to ZTE and it has submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs for administrative action, said Timothy Moono, ACC public relations manager, in a quarterly media briefing that
The Zambian government had already terminated the contract, following allegations of corruption and non-compliance with standard regulations.
The ACC, a government agency responsible for investigating allegations of corruption and prosecuting corruption cases, said without elaborating that it will not take the ZTE corruption issue to court because of legal technicalities.
“The allegations of corruption were proved true by ACC in this matter but the commission has not prosecuted anyone due to legal technicalities. However, recommendations have been made to the Ministry of Home Affairs for administrative action,” Moon said.
The ministry of Home Affairs is a government ministry in charge of security in the country. According to government sources, if the tender had not been cancelled, Zambia could have lost up to $100 million due to exaggerated costs.
ZTE has had no comment on the matter.
The Chinese government has been funding several telecom projects in Africa through loans whose conditions are that supply and installation contracts are given to Chinese companies.
However, the findings of the ACC adds to the growing concern that China’s telecom companies resort to bribes when participating in telecom and networks bids in the region.
Last month, Nigeria’s Federal High Court ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately start an investigation into the $470 million CCTV security camera project that was awarded to ZTE and aimed at tackling security challenges posed by terrorists group.
The project was awarded in 2011, but the CCTV installations have not worked. The project was funded by a financing arrangement involving the Nigerian government and China’s Export and Import Bank.
This week, Nigerian lawmakers also passed a resolution in the House of Representative ordering a probe into the CCTV camera project.