ZAMBIAN publishers have challenged the Ministry of Education and Anti-Corruption Commission to call for an urgent meeting to enable them prove the corruption allegations made against the ministry.
“It is not true that Zambian-owned companies have no capacity to produce books for the ministry to have given contracts to foreign-owned companies; they frustrated Zambians for the purpose of disadvantaging them,” they said.
The Zambian publishers have argued that local registration did not automatically mean local ownership because the foreign companies could now be registered in Zambia for the benefit of the centralized tender which was a ploy meant to disadvantage the local writers who were fighting the new system of engaging textbooks companies.
The publishers were responding to the Ministry of Education who threatened to take legal action against local publishers who are alleging corruption.
“We want equity and fairness We have written many letters to the Government to complain but nothing has happened,” they said.
The Ministry of Education has defended its decision to award foreign owned firms saying the companies awarded were registered in Zambia.
Education spokesperson Hillary Chipango said the three companies registered with the Patents and Companies Agency (PACRA) and the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) were members of the Book Publishers of Zambia (BPAZ) and therefore were Zambian registered Companies.
Mr Chipango said the assertion by some Zambian publishers that the Ministry of Education awarded a tender to some foreign companies was untrue, and that there was no scandal or corrupt tendencies in the manner the tender for text books was handled.
“The tender was floated on 26th February, 2014 and the bidding was conducted through the Open National Bidding (ONB) a procedure specified in the Public Procurement Act of 2008 and the Public Procurement Regulations of 2011, and was directed to all Zambian registered publishers and Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and preferential treatment was applicable.”
He reiterated that the publishing companies that were represented by the Publishers Association of Zambia did not participate in the tender and therefore have no legal claim as they were not part to the process.
“The three companies (Mwajionera Publishers Limited and 2 others) that sued the Ministry did not participate in the tender and the High Court judgements of 19th day of January 2015 and 27th March 2015 ruled in favour of the Ministry. The one year delay in the procurement of text books was caused by Mwajionera Publishers Limited and two others who sued the Ministry with no cause and legal basis,” he said.
Mr Chipango threatened that the Ministry of Education had written to the Attorney General to study the articles and consider suing the Daily Nation Newspaper, Mrs. Alice Mkandawire and Mr. Kapeso Ntambakwa who represented the Zambian publishers.