The Hunting Safari Consesions cancelled by Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo on account of alleged irregularities were above board and transparent, an Office of the President Special Division (SD) officer has revealed.
The officer said there was nothing amiss and the procedures followed were in accord with the law.
And Ministry of Tourism and Arts senior tourism and research officer Chilala Habasindi has testified against Masebo submitting that the consideration of the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto was not part of the selection criteria and that if government had intended to include it in the process, they should have done so at the time of the preparation of the tender document.
Testifying in the on-going Judge Rhoyda Kaoma Tribunal investigating Masebo over alleged breach of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct and corruption, Sydney Chilala of Chilenje yesterday branded the Minister of Tourism and Arts a liar that the evaluation process of the 19 hunting Safari concessions tender was marred with corruption.
Chilala stated that the tender evaluation process was transparent and above board and that it was not correct and erroneous for Masebo to have cancelled the tender under the guise of unfair representation by stakeholders at the evaluation level.
Chilala said he, together with another officer from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) were part of the ZAWA hunting concession tender evaluation committee and that they were satisfied that the process was flawless.
He submitted that he was with the evaluation committee for three weeks and that apart from participating in the process; he was also given the responsibility of securing a room in which the committee was working.
“I was invited by ZAWA to sit on the committee that was evaluating the hunting Safari concession tender and I was both an observer and a participant in the process. I did not notice any irregularity in the evaluation process and it is not true that there was corruption. If I had noticed any form of corruption, I would have easily informed my colleague from the Anti-Corruption Commission. I was surprised that Masebo cancelled the tender because the process was above board,’ Chilala said.And Habasindi who is the serving senior tourism and research officer at the Ministry of tourism said she was surprised that Masebo cancelled the tender because according to her, the process had no suspicion of getting compromised because the team had strictly adhered to the ZAWA Act and the Zambia Public Procurement Agency.
Habasindi said the process of evaluating the tender that has since been cancelled was confidential with the rules governing the process followed in totality.
Asked by Masebo’s lawyer Bonaventure Mutale who is also the ruling party legal counsel why the committee did not take into account the PF manifesto in evaluating the tender, Habasindi said: “It was not necessary for the Minister to have cancelled the tender on account that it did not consider the aspirations of the PF because it was not part of the evaluation criteria. According to me and based on the ZPPA Act, the process was confidential and not prone to corruption.Meanwhile Chief Kakumba of Mambwe told the Tribunal that it was wrong for Masebo to have cancelled the tender because her action had seen the increase in poaching because most of the game scouts had become unemployed. Chief Kakumbi said it was incorrect for Masebo to suggest that the traditional leadership was not represented at the evaluation process because ZAWA management had invited representatives of chiefs from all the 19 hunting blocks that were to be under concession.