LUSAKA magistrate Lameck Mwale has sentenced former Cabinet Office permanent secretary Anne Sinyangwe to 12 months simple imprisonment in a case where she illegally awarded a procurement contract worth over K80, 000.
Sinyangwe was convicted two weeks ago and sentence was reserved to yesterday to allow the defence to produce medical documents to support her claim that she had low blood pressure.
When it came up for sentence, Sinyangwe’s lawyers produced the medical documents and prayed that she be given a suspended sentence as the state did not make any loss from her action but gained.
One of the defence lawyers, Nicholas Chanda, said Sinyangwe, being a convict, had already lost her benefits for the 25 years she served in the government and that such an action was punishment enough.
However, magistrate Mwale said despite taking into consideration her mitigation, he had a duty to ensure public officers secured and accounted for government resources.
“The court is duty bound to hold public officers to account and secure public resources and I will be failing in my duties if I don’t impose a custodial sentence. I therefore sentence you to 12 months simple imprisonment from the day of incarceration,” said magistrate Mwale.
In 2015, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) arrested Sinyangwe for alleged willful failure to comply with applicable procedure relating to procurement involving a K89,253.44 contract.
Sinyangwe, of Lilayi, was arrested over the alleged awarding of a contract for paving of Cabinet Office car park to Moonstone Investments Limited.
Sinyangwe denied committing the offence.
But in his judgment, magistrate Mwale had said even if the offence was committed a long time ago and corrected, an illegality still existed.
According to evidence on record, Sinyangwe approved the quotation for the contract and over K89,000 was paid to the company in full after she authorised the payment.
The paving of the car park was done before the tender was approved and the works were undertaken despite the company not being qualified for the said works.
Magistrate Mwale established that Sinyangwe approved the contract which was above her threshold without subjecting it to the ministerial tender committee.
He had also noted that there was only one bidder and so Sinyangwe could not purport that the tender was shortlisted to the bidders, an act in contravention with the public procurement Act.
Sinyangwe’s lawyer, in mitigation, said she was a first offender and had low blood pressure, but the court refused to admit the justification.