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Zambia Suspends State Railways Head Pending Graft Probe

Zambian president Michael Sata suspended Clive Chirwa five months after his appointment as chief executive officer of the state-owned railway company in Africa’s biggest copper producer.

Chirwa, previously an automotive and aerospace professor at Bolton University in the U.K., is being investigated following claims of corruption, Sata’s office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“The Anti-Corruption Commission has been instructed to carry out full investigations concerning the allegations,” Sata said in an extract of a letter to Chirwa, who must leave a house provided by Zambia Railways Ltd.

The southern African nation is seeking to upgrade its 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) railway system which Sata said Nov. 15 had “deteriorated beyond description” under the private operators whose contract he canceled in September. Zambia Railways planned to spend as much as $1.5 billion over five years to refurbish the land-locked country’s system and build new lines. Mining companies including Konkola Copper Mines Plc, the local unit of Vedanta Resources Plc, is seeking to lower its costs by using the railway to transport copper.

Chirwa didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone or reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Sata appointed Muyenga Atanga, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport Works, Supply and Communications to “take charge” of Zambia Railways with immediate effect, he said in the statement.

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