President Michael Sata and his ministers do not have any powers to direct or order the cancellation of a running tender, Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) director inspection and standards Gloria Ngoma has testified.
Ngoma yesterday told the Judge Rhoyda Kaoma Tribunal investigating Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo over allegations of breaching the State Security Act and abuse of authority that the Minister (Masebo) was wrong to have cancelled the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) 19 Safari hunting concession tender.
Ngoma testified that the only authorities with the powers to cancel a running tender were the chief executive officer of an institution or the tender committee.
She said the ZPPA Act did not allow the President or his ministers to interfere with the tendering process and therefore could not be involved in the ZAWA tendering process.
Asked by Makebi Zulu, one of the lawyers representing former transport and communications minister William Harrington who is a petitioner if the President could direct the cancellation of a ZAWA running a tender, Ngoma said: “The President would not direct the cancellation of a tender process because the ZPPA does not give him authority to take such an action. Under the public procurement Act, the President has no role in the tendering process.”
And when asked again whether Masebo could cancel the tender, Ngoma responded: “The Minister would not direct the cancellation of a running tender because that was the exclusive mandate of the chief executive officer or the tender committee. The minister did not follow the process in cancelling the process when she announced the cancellation of the tender. ”
Ngoma testified that the procurement committee had unlimited authority to terminate a tender if there were allegations that the process was marred with corruption and other irregularities.
Judge Kaoma in examining Ngoma said the Tribunal subpoenaed Ngoma to clarify issues of who had the authority to cancel the ZAWA tender and whether the evaluation committee could include other people on the committee after the process had commenced.
Judge Kaoma also said the Tribunal wanted to know the complaints that would warrant the cancellation of the tender and in response; Ngoma stated that under the ZPPA Act, the approved authorities that could cancel the tender were only the tender committee and the controlling officer of the institution.
The Judge Kaoma Tribunal that concluded its hearing yesterday heard that the ZAWA tender could only be cancelled if there was evidence of collusion, corruption and if the process was not being conducted in public interest.
Ngoma told the Judge Kaoma Tribunal that the evaluation of tender process was a discreet and confidential process and that any attempt to include new members after the evaluation process had commenced could seriously injure and compromise the process.
She said the evaluation process was conducted confidentially so as to avoid manipulation in the selection of the winning bidders.
She said ZPPA had objected to the application by ZAWA to include chiefs in the evaluation process after it had already commenced because the action would have jeopardized the transparency of the process.
And the Judge Kaoma Tribunal has concluded its sittings with Robert Simeza complaining that it was unfair for the petitioners and the defence to hand over their submissions to the tribunal simultaneously.
But Judge Kaoma ruled that the submissions would be handed over to the Tribunal at the same time stressing the inquiry had been fair and just in all its proceedings.
The Tribunal is expected to hand over its recommendations to President Sata and the Speaker of the National Assembly soon after completing its work.