|ZAMTEL Headquarters in
Enforcement Commission has frozen Zamtel's accounts held in commercial banks operating in
But Zamtel yesterday filed for judicial review at the Lusaka High
Court over government's decision to freeze its accounts.
Zamtel employees risk not receiving their January salaries owing to the freezing
of the company's bank accounts.
Cabinet sources revealed yesterday that
the freezing of Zamtel accounts follows government's decision to repossess 75
per cent of the company's shareholding sold to Libya's LAP GreenN for US$257
“That is why the workers are failing to bank the money
because all the accounts for Zamtel have been frozen by the government,” said
the source. “This actually poses a serious problem because the workers may not
even get paid. How do you pay workers when the accounts are
Zamtel management yesterday morning filed for judicial review
before judge Evans Hamaundu over the freezing of the company's
“But actually, most judges were reluctant to hear that case
because of its sensitivity,” said a source.
According to a statement in
support of an application for leave to apply for judicial review filed in Lusaka
High Court, Zamtel cried out that the seizure of its accounts in Barclays
Bank and Zanaco
would lead to a halt of its operations.
In the matter where the LAP Green
Network-owned company has cited the Attorney General as the sole respondent,
Zamtel is seeking relief from the High Court to reverse the seizure of its bank
“The applicant is a private company incorporated in the
Republic of Zambia and is a one-stop telecommunications company providing fixed
telephone line services, mobile phone services, Internet services and other
telecommunication services and products,” Zamtel stated.
numbers of Zamtel's accounts that were seized by DEC include 042024000000000042,
3020001240 and 066024000000138 held at Zanaco and Barclays Bank. Other seized
accounts are 0011529, 161271152, 121156695, 0957718, 1213926, 011067026,
011067026 and 011039634 held at Barclays Bank.
Zamtel has sought an order
to quash the decision by DEC to unilaterally and unreasonably issue a notice of
seizure in respect of its seized accounts.
“A declaration that the
procedure by the DEC to seize the accounts was unfair and contrary to the rules
of natural justice,” Zamtel stated in its application.
Zamtel wants the
court to also declare that the Act under which DEC seized the accounts, which is
the prohibition and prevention of money laundering Act number 14 of 2001, was
unconstitutional as it infringes Article 161 of the Republican
Zamtel also seeks damages suffered as the result of the
seizure of its bank accounts.
The statement further outlined the grounds
upon which Zamtel was seeking relief from the court in the matter and one of
them classified DEC's act as unreasonable.
“In that it permits DEC to
seize property without paying compensation in the event that the seizure was
wrongful, unreasonable and if the owner of the seized property is not found
guilty of any offence,” the application read further. “That holding money gained
from a viable business duly established by law does not constitute money
Zamtel went on to argue that the seizure of its accounts
amounts to an indirect expropriation of property by the government through its
department or institution, the DEC.
Zamtel claimed that the decision by
DEC was fraught with procedural impropriety.
“Procedurally, DEC should
have investigated the matter and accord the applicant its right to be heard
immediately after seizing the seized accounts,” the telecommunications company
“It is a settled precedent and a right in Zambia that when
proceeding under provisions such as Section 15 of the Prohibition and Prevention
of Money Laundering Act Number 14 of 2001, the right to be heard must be
exercised by the authority involved."
Zamtel stated that DEC blatantly
violated the above principle by not according it the right to be heard and to
make representation regarding the seized accounts.
“That further the
government, through its department, DEC, is acting as the investigator and
prosecutor in the same cause notwithstanding that it is a shareholder in the
applicant,” Zamtel stated in part. “That when arriving at the decision, the DEC
failed to take into account relevant considerations such as that the applicant
is a commercial entity that is able to show that the funds in the seized
accounts are proceeds from business.”
Zamtel stated that DEC also failed
to take into account that the government, which is the shareholder in the
company, sits on the board of directors and was aware of the source of the
“There is no reasonable ground to believe that the funds in the
seized accounts came from proceeds of crime for a company which is audited per
quarter in a calendar year and both the government and LAP GreenN Network
Limited as the shareholders know of these audits,” the application read. “Since
privatisation, the applicant is a viable commercial entity and is able to have
the sort of funds in the seized accounts.”
Zamtel complained that the
seizure of its accounts implies that the company has been operating an illegal
business, in which the government was a shareholder.
“The seizure of all
the accounts of the applicant will make the company more unprofessional which is
not in the public interest as the provision of the applicant's telecommunication
services shall be brought to a halt,” Zamtel stated.
Zamtel stated in its
ground of relief that it would be difficult to meet its workers' remuneration
requirements following the seizure of its accounts by DEC.
The matter has
since been allocated to judge Evans Hamaundu.
Sources told The Post on
Thursday that Zamtel had stopped banking its daily collections due to
uncertainties on the future of the company.
Cabinet recently agreed to
repossess Zamtel from Lap GreenN.
A report of the Commission of Inquiry
instituted by President Michael Sata led by justice minister Sebastian Zulu noted that
LAP GreenN must have been eliminated at the pre-qualification stage during the
privatisation of Zamtel as it did not meet both the five-year minimum
telecommunications operators requirement and the national telecommunications
network licence requirement.
The report also revealed former president
Rupiah Banda's influence in abusing and circumventing set government
institutions and procedures and that he aided RP Capital to ensure LAP Green
Networks bought Zamtel despite not being fit to run the company.
report further reveals that that following review of the bid from LAP GreenN,
the committee noted serious and critical anomalies in the qualification of LAP
GreenN in the preliminary stage which ZDA,
their lawyers and their transaction advisors deliberately ignored.
LAP GreenN chairman Wafik Alshater stated that the Libyan firm would be forced
to explore legal options to protect its reputation following what he termed
‘willful misrepresentation’ of the company.
Meanwhile, Zamtel employees
are uncertain about the company's future, as they risk not receiving their
“The workers want to know what their fate is. As at now,
things are not okay. The workers were promised that their jobs will not be
affected but looking at the way things are moving, it is not clear what may
happen tomorrow,” said the sources.