LUSAKA magistrate’s court heard yesterday that Transport and Communications former minister Dora Siliya did not cancel a disputed radar system contract but the cancellation came as a result of Government having no money to pay the contractor.
This came to light when a State witness was cross-examined in a case in which Ms Siliya, who is now Minister of Energy, is alleged to have abused her authority of office when she directed the cancellation of the installation of the radar system.
Mr Samuel Kunda, a deputy inspector at Zambia Police headquarters, had earlier told the court that Siliya erred when she accepted a free offer by Selex Systemi Integrati to operate the radar system because its acquisition was affected and a tender process stalled.
Mr Kunda said this when he was cross-examined by defence counsel Lubinda Linyama before Ndola High Court deputy director, Joshua Banda, sitting as a magistrate.
He said a free offer by Selex to work on the radar system was prejudicial as there was a tender process which Government had awarded to Thales Air Systems which was only waiting Government approval.
But Mr Linyama asked Mr Kunda to explain how a free offer by Selex was prejudicial to the State when Selex repaired the radar system without invoicing Government.
He also asked Mr Kunda whether, according to his investigations, Government had set aside funds for the repair of the radar system.
In his reply, Mr Kunda said there were no funds for the acquisition of the radar system and that a free offer was beneficial to Government only if Siliya had followed laid down procedures before accepting a free offer from Selex to work on the radar system when she knew that there was a tender process which was still running.
But Mr Linyama challenged Mr Kunda to state whether her was aware of evidence on records whether there was a go-ahead from then Minister of Finance Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane to the Ministry of Communications accepting a free offer from Selex as Government did not have funds for the repair of the radar.
Mr Linyama also wanted Mr Kunda to also state whether there was evidence on record to show that the Director of Civil Aviation rejected the free offer.
Mr Kunda told court that the permanent secretary had not accepted the free offer as he had seen its irregularities, adding that there was another tender process.
Mr Kunda admitted that the tender was not cancelled by Siliya but by a Dr Mambwe because Government did not have enough money to pay Thalase.
He also said Siliya had already left the ministry and she was not active as Government had commenced her tribunal proceedings regarding the matter before court.
Mr Kunda also said that Siliya was not part of the intervention meeting at which Government was negotiating with Selex to do some additional interventions at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport where K1,943,932,360 was paid to Selex.
He said this after Mr Linyama asked him to explain the role Siliya played in respect of the additional interventions with Selex.
This is a case in which Siliya is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office involving the cancellation of a duly awarded tender which was for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system to Thales Air Systems.
The cancellation, according to the case regard was an act allegedly prejudicial to the rights or interests of Government.
Siliya is alleged to have directed the cancellation of a tender for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of the Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system to Thales Air System SA.
She is also alleged to have accepted a free offer from Selex Systemi Integrati S.P.A for the repair of a radar head at the then Lusaka International Airport without following procedure.
The matter comes up on February 24 for continued trial.