It is wrong and unacceptable to draw the President and Vice President into contentious commercial issues that are before courts of law.
Contrary to assertion, the case in which Zambian publishers have taken the Ministry of Education to court is still active before the Supreme Court. It has not been concluded.
That is why it was a grave mischief and an abuse to have allowed a public donation of cartons of books to State House, when Zambians are in the Supreme Court complaining about the manner the publication of the books was awarded to a foreign company.
What are Zambian publishers supposed to conclude when the parent ministry takes the party to a dispute to the highest office in the land? This is wrong.
Like them we are concerned that many Zambian publishing firms have closed down with the loss of thousands of jobs because books have been contracted to foreign publishers.
In this particular case 65 books have gone to one Ugandan publisher with only one going to a Zambian. This, we feel, is unfair, unjust uncompetitive and an affront.
It is equally an abuse of public funds for the Ministry to take advertising space in the newspaper to defend a corrupt tender. We hope that the Secretary to Cabinet will surcharge the officers responsible; because the advertisement does not provide insight and transparency into the manner the tenders were crafted.
We are the only newspaper that has been asking questions about the textbook tender and the least we expected was a direct answer to the questions we posed. It is incredulous that the ministry chose to rebut our story through an advertisement published in the Zambia Daily Mail.
What are we expected to make of this?
To date we have not been availed the APPROVED BOOKLIST.
If indeed there is such a list, how was it approved and why has it not been made public?
We are not intellectually challenged; we understand the role of the Curriculum Development Centre. Our concern is that the center is being abused for predatory purposes, hence the outcry from Zambian publishers who are asking for explanations.
The ministry must explain to Zambian publishers what has happened to the one-year running contracts for the supply and delivery of school text books which the Permanent Secretary Mr. Chishimba Nkosha signed in 2014.
In that document suppliers were assured that expired contracts would be renewed and that they would be called to sign the extended contracts after due process was completed. That has not happened.
Secondly the ministry must explain the manner and modality used in the selection of books and why some books submitted last year for evaluation have to date not been evaluated while a tender is being given for some books. What criteria or formula was used between submissions made in 2014 where publishers paid and the one this year where publishers were not expected to pay anything?
These are two parallel systems which have now brought about the outcry which must be explained not through an advertisement but through a proper investigation by a proper team of professionals preferably from our universities.
The Permanent Secretary as shown on our Page 1 indicated that expired contracts in 2014 would be renewed for all the suppliers as soon as the procurement process was complete. How was it then that in 2015 this was not the case?
The advertisement skirted around issues in contention, concentrating instead on technicalities that have been manipulated for specific purposes.