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By ZamChro Correspondent,

 

Zambia’s former Lands Minister, Gladys Nyirongo, has been sentenced to jail for 4 years for corruption and abuse of office ZamChro has learned. Welcoming the verdict Transparent International Zambia, TIZ Executive Director, Goodwell Lungu, said the conviction will serve as a warning to corrupt public officers.

 

Mr. Lungu said people should avoid using public offices for personal again at the expense of national development. And Mr. Lungu has commended the Anti-Corruption Commission for working tirelessly in trying to promote a corrupt free society.

 

The Lusaka magistrate court on Friday slapped a four year jail term on reverend Nyirongo on two counts of corrupt practices. In the first count, Nyirongo between January 1 and February 22, 2006, being a person employed in the public service, directed a Lands officer, Daisy Mulenga, to generate offer letters of land in Foxdale, Chamba Valley in Lusaka to 10 people.

 

In the second count, Nyirongo abused her position by directing Christopher Chewe, a junior technician in the Ministry of Agriculture, to subdivide a former Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) farm, number F/390a, in contravention of the land alienation procedures, and created property number 1/19634/m for herself.

 

“In the first count, I have found the defendant guilty as charged and sentence her to 24 months simple imprisonment with immediate effect and in the second count, I have found the convict guilty as charged and sentence her to 48 months simple imprisonment with immediate effect,” Ms Newa said.

 

She said being a public figure, Nyirongo was supposed to have used her office to build or strengthen the Ministry of Lands and not direct officers at her will because this would result in anarchy and total disregard of the law and procedure.

 

The magistrate said the nation looked up to its leaders for the development of the country and where leaders failed to provide that leadership and no matter the situation. Ms Newa said in the first count, the defense team failed to cross-examine Mulenga because she was a credible witness who was acting on instructions from her superiors.

 

She said it was clear from the evidence before the court that Nyirongo directed Mulenga to generate letters of offer of lands to 10 people who did not apply for the land. In the second count, Ms Newa ruled that if Nyirongo was not interested in acquiring farm number F/390a, she could have not directed Chewe to sub-divide the land.

 

In mitigation through lawyer Robson Malipenga, Nyirongo said she was a family person who was a sole bread-winner of a big family which included sisters and orphaned children who entirely depended on her for food and education.

 

Nyirongo said she was a member of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and Member of Parliament representing the people of Bwacha constituency in Kabwe in the National Assembly for the well-being of the citizens in the country.

 

The former minister further said she was a reverend who had been guiding and leading many people to know God and that her contribution to developing the country had been disturbed by the court cases.She said for the past two years, she had suffered enough from the court cases, as she had to endure the pain and embarrassment that arose from the cases.

 

Meanwhile, a delegation of four British members of Parliament is in Zambia for a six day visit. The MP’S are from the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

 

British High Commissioner Tom Carter said the MP’s are in the Southern African nation under the auspice of the Commonwealth Parliament Association. Mr. Carter said the delegation has come to learn about how British aid is working in Zambia.

 

While in the country, the MP’s will exchange views with their Zambian counterparts on climate change, gender, media freedom and good governance. The MP’s will also hold a series of meeting with the Finance Minister, Parliamentarians, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the Auditor General and the Anti Corruption Commission.

 

They will also visit the Copperbelt to study the impact of the global economic crisis on Zambia and some DFID funded projects in Chirundu. While in Chirundu, the Members of Parliament will visit the one stop border post being sponsored by DFID and migration centre being managed by the International Organization for Migration.

 

Their tour will culminate with a visit to Konkola Copper Mines. The Delegation leaves Zambia on Saturday 21st February.

 

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