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Zimola’s South Bohemia manipulated tenders, anti-corruption NGO says

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Ceske Budejovice, South Bohemia, April 11 (CTK) – The Czech Anti-Corruption Endowment NGO has an analysis showing that the South Bohemia Region’s public procurement was opaque and contracts were manipulated under Governor Jiri Zimola in the past six years, Linda Majerova, from the endowment, told CTK today.

Majerova said the Social Democrats (CSSD), represented by Zimola, made a pact of sharing economic power in the region with the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS).

Zimola dismissed her accusation, as has Martin Kuba, head of the ODS South Bohemia branch.

Earlier today, Zimola announced his resignation from the post in the wake of the regional council’s collapse due to the ANO movement’s withdrawal from it. The CSSD and ANO are now each seeking partners to form their own regional government with.

Majerova said it is clear from the way of putting up tenders and from their results that a power-sharing pact between the CSSD and the ODS has been in force in the region since Zimola’s first election as governor in 2008.

“Under Zimola…, the region hired external administrators of public tenders who had evident links to ODS politicians… A tender for the operator of public transport in the Sumava area worth 2.25 billion crowns was put up in a way to secure the victory of a firm including local ODS leaders and also local ODS ‘Godfather’ Pavel Dlouhy,” Majerova said.

Zimola called her words “an utter nonsense and an unprecedented interference in the ongoing coalition-forming talks.

It is clear that the endowment’s representatives such as entrepreneurs Radim Jancura and Karel Janecek are trying to intervene in favour of ANO and influence the negotiations. The endowment’s allegations are all nonsense and all of them can be refuted, Zimola told CTK.

“I am considering taking a legal action,” he added.

Deputy Regional Governor Ivana Straska (CSSD), who might fill the governor’s post to be vacated by Zimola, said she is convinced that no power-sharing pact as mentioned by the anti-corruption watchdog has existed since 2011.

“As far as I know, a server wrote at the time that South Bohemia’s placing of public orders is the most transparent of all regions,” Straska said.

The regional coalition government collapsed on Monday after the ANO movement joined the opposition in their criticism of the CSSD for what they called an excessive pay of Martin Blaha, head of the board of the South Bohemian Hospitals company operated by the region.

The opposition pointed at opaque financial deals of the company and accused the regional government of unlawfully siphoning off money from hospitals.

After announcing his resignation today, Zimola said he will launch an audit of the company’s financial management and release its results.

He wants to clean his name, refute all suspicions in the weeks to come, and show to the public what was behind his departure and who needed to unseat him, he told a press conference.

“I want to point at the South Bohemia ODS and its mafia-like practices and hypocrisy with which it preaches good morals,” said Zimola, who led the CSSD victoriously in regional elections three times in a row but who is an opponent of CSSD chairman and PM Bohuslav Sobotka in the party.

He said he keeps the post of the South Bohemia CSSD chairman and plans to run in the October general election though his name figures in the last, 22nd position on the party’s regional list of candidates.

($1=25.082 crowns)


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