Zambia: Will digital migration project cost president his job?

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Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has tabled a motion in the country’s parliament to have president Edgar Lungu impeached. They accuse the leader of presiding over a cabinet that made illegal procurement decisions related to the national digital migration project.

UPND parliamentary chief whip Garry Nkombo confirmed the development. “We have a lot of support even from Members of Parliament from the ruling party. Come Wednesday (March 28), the country will have the vice president acting as president because as I speak, we have 25 members of parliament from the ruling party on our side.”

However, the President’s spokesperson Amos Chanda said at a press briefing that Lungu was not worried because the UPND does not have the numbers in parliament to successfully impeach him.

“The UPND only have 58 members of Parliament. In order to impeach the president, they need 112 lawmakers to support the motion. So where do they get the numbers?” Chanda asked.

Former minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili has accused Lungu of inflating the cost of the second and third phases of the country’s digital migration project.

The first phase of the project covered four provinces and cost US$9 million.

The government has borrowed US$273 million to extend the project to six provinces. However, according to submissions by bidders, the cost should have been less than US$25 million.

Kambwili, who oversaw the awarding of the project to StarTimes as a minister, alleges that Lungu canceled the bidding process of the project in order to personally benefit from it and single-sourced StarTimes. This is illegal, according to Kambwili.

The government denies there was corruption involved.

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