Zambia Daily Mail

By JIMMY CHIBUYE

July 13th, 2012

FORMER minister of Communications Transport Dora Siliya issued instructions to halt the contract for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system awarded to Thales Air Systems of South Africa , a State witness has testified.
Former Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) director-general David Kapitolo said Siliya instructed the then permanent secretary Eustern Mambwe to halt the process and retender the duly awarded contract because of alleged corruption. Mr Kapitolo however said the only person who can make variations for the cancellation of the tender awarded by the Central Tender Committee (CTC) is the minister of Finance, who is the chairperson of the CTC and the variations should be done through a statutory instrument.

He was testifying in a case in which Siliya, who is MMD Petauke Central member of Parliament, is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office, contrary to the Laws of Zambia.The tender for supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System was for Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International airports.

“I received a letter which was not directed to me but to Ministry of Communications and Transport permanent secretary Eustern Mambwe from the minister asking him [Dr Mambwe] to halt the tender and retender the process because the best evaluated bidder, Thales Air Systems, was not a manufacturer,” he said.

Mr Kapitolo said the procurement process and tender awarded to Thales Air Systems of South Africa was conducted in accordance with the ZPPA rules, up to the selection of the best evaluation bidder and notification but Siliya interjected. He said Selex Systemi Integrati was not among the bidders who submitted their documents for the tender of the radars because their bidding documents were rejected for being delivered late. Mr Kapitolo said he received a letter from Dr Mambwe, seeking the cancellation of the tender awarded by the CTC but he advised that the contract cannot be cancelled by an individual. He said he replied to Dr Mambwe’s letter and advised him that he cannot ask the CTC to cancel the tender because the manufacturer who authorised Thales Air Systems to bid was a reputable institution capable of making the radars.

Mr Kapitolo said unfortunately his letter to Dr Mwambwe was leaked to the media, forcing then President Rupiah Banda to set up a tribunal to investigate the matter. He said after the tribunal’s verdict which cleared Siliya of abusing her office, his contract of employment was terminated.
Mr Kapitolo also said the ZPPA received an anonymous letter alleging that the awarding of a contract to Thales Air Systems was marred by corruption and it should be halted. He said after investigations, it was revealed that the allegations contained in the anonymous letter were a ploy to halt the procurement process so that it could be redone and allow Selex Systemi Integrati to be part of the bidding process.
Mr Kapitolo said the permanent secretary is the purchaser and buyer of any ministry.

It is alleged that Siliya between February 20, 2008 and April 20, 2009 in Lusaka, employed as Minister of Communications and Transport, abused the authority of her office, by directing the cancellation of a duly awarded tender. The tender was for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a radar system to Thales Air Systems South Africa, whose implementation was frustrated. This act was prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government of the Republic of Zambia. Particulars of the second offence are that during the same period, in breach of laid down procedure, Siliya did accept a purportedly free offer from Selex Systemi Integrati for the repair of a Radar Head at Lusaka International Airport, as a result of which government actually paid K1, 943, 932, 360, an act prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.
The matter will come up today for continued hearing.