Thursday, April 17, 2008
By Inonge Noyoo
Thursday April 17, 2008 [04:00]
FORMER Attorney General Bonaventure Mutale has said there was nothing strange about his involvement in the US $ 7.8 million Carlington maize saga. Commenting on revelations by the Task Force on Corruption chairman Maxwell Nkole that he was one of the people yet to be called and interrogated on the maize deal, Mutale said his involvement in the Carlington deal was merely in his official capacity as attorney general at the time.
Mutale said he was very amused at revelations that he would be interrogated on the Carlington maize scandal.
“The context in which that statement was made is very regrettable because my involvement in the matter was as Attorney General and I prosecuted the claim against Carlington in the London Court of Arbitration. What the Task Force is doing is exactly what I did then,” he said.
Mutale said acting on instructions from then president Frederick Chiluba, he conducted investigations in the Carlington maize saga as to why there was a failure by the company to supply the maize or pay the money it owed the Zambian government.
He said he prosecuted the case and the judgment was in favour of Zambia and Carlington was ordered to pay back the money.
“What is remaining now is the award to be enforced and for the money to be paid back. I find it regrettable for someone to say I will be interrogated over the Carlington maize scandal because the files are there to speak for themselves.
You can go to the ministry of justice now and you will find all the files you need on the Carlington deal, everything is documented. I was only involved in my official capacity as Attorney General and after the event,” he said.
Mutale said he would, however, assist with any information that the Task Force may need from him.
“I am still under oath to assist them. They can consult me and I will be able to assist them. Otherwise my involvement was simply professional like a lawyer is instructed to prosecute a case by a client.
I was instructed as Attorney General to conduct the case on behalf of Zambia. I was simply chasing a debt,” he said. “There is nothing strange about my involvement since I was legal advisor and I was instructed to recover debt. Actually, the Task Force is simply duplicating what I did at the time.”
The Task Force on Corruption has been investigating the case of Carlington Sales Company, a Canadian commodity supplier, following an agreement with the Zambian government in 1997/98 to supply maize to Zambia amounting to US $24 million. The government paid US $7.8 million towards the contract but no maize was ever delivered to Zambia.