ZAMTEL has been sued for abrogating a directory publishing contract with a Zambian company when it decided to invite foreign companies for the same contract.
In a writ before the Lusaka High Court, Zambian Directory Services has complained that according to tender procedures, no Zambian public company was allowed to open tenders to foreign bidders when the goods and services could be obtained locally.
In this regard, ZDS has complained that Zamtel published an expression of interest bid open to foreign contractors, contrary to the regulations and disregarding the fact that ZDS had produced the 2014/2015 Zamtel Directory.
In spite of the abrogation, according to ZDS executive director Patricia Chibiliti, ZDS submitted an expression of interest.
When the bids were opened, there were only two tenders, one from ZDS and the other from a South African company Brabys.
Since opening the bids 16 months ago, Zamtel had not communicated findings contrary to procedures, hence the nation has no 2015 and 2016 directory.
This failure had placed ZDS in contractual default with employees and clients who expected the company to produce the directory.
ZDS has now applied to the High Court to restrain the phone company from looking for alternative publishers as they have already begun the process of production.
In an affidavit in support of an order of interim injunction filed at the Lusaka High Court, ZDS said the publishing agreement of 12th October 2011 was in fact renewed when Zamtel intimated the plaintiff should begin preparations for the 2015 publication.
ZDS managing director Chibiliti indicated in her affidavit that Zamtel had a running contract with the plaintiff to publish 2012, 2013 and 2014 telephone directories and that upon submission of the 2014 directory, the contract was renewed after Zamtel’s request for preparations for the next edition including opening advertising space for the publication.
“That the plaintiff submitted its directory for 2014 to the defendants who intimated that the plaintiff should begin to prepare for the next edition so that the said directory would be on the market by January 2015, signifying that the contract had been renewed as per clause 19.1 of the contract.
“That following the renewal of the contract, the plaintiff proceeded to engage with its clients for advertising space and the said clients paid for the advertising space in the 2015 edition of the directory,” she said.
Ms Chibiliti explained that contrary to the impression created that the ZDS contract was renewed, Zamtel invited applications for a prequalification for production and printing of the 2015-2017 telephone directory, managing online phone book and the mobile phonebook app.
“That when the bids were later opened on 29th August 2014, it was discovered that only two companied had submitted their bids, the plaintiff and a foreign company called Braby’s trading as Directory Publishers,” she said.
The ZDC chief said if the invitation was open to international publishers, ZDS would be disadvantaged against foreign companies that have showed interest in the tender, abrogating the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) procedure to prefer local companies.
She accused Zamtel of depriving her company an opportunity to win and be awarded the tender.
They have since requested the court to restrain Zamtel from going ahead with the tendering process and allow ZDS complete its contract as agreed.