Masebo Tribunal : ‘Cancelled ZAWA tender was transparent’ – Habasimbi

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CHIEF Kakumbi from Eastern Province leaving the Supreme Court after he testified in the tribunal probing Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo in Lusaka yesterday. – Picture by ANGELA MWENDA.
CHIEF Kakumbi from Eastern Province leaving the Supreme Court after he testified in the tribunal probing Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo in Lusaka yesterday. – Picture by ANGELA MWENDA.

A ZAMBIA Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) officer has told the tribunal tasked to probe Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo’s alleged professional misconduct that the tender process for hunting concession licences, which the minister cancelled, was transparent.
Sydney Chisanga, 35, an officer in the Office of the President, said he did not notice any corruption in the tender process and that he would have reported any such activity to the relevant investigative wings.
“I did not notice any corruption in the process. If any would have appeared then the matter would have been reported to the relevant authority,” Mr Chisanga said.
He said he was a member of the evaluating committee in the tender process and he was there to ensure that procedure was followed in the evaluation process.
He said members of the evaluating committee knew the criteria for the evaluation and he was there to ensure that confidentiality was maintained by restricting the release of information through phone calls during the meeting.
Mr Chisanga said he does not agree with Ms Masebo that the process was marred with irregularities because it was above board.
“I was there to observe the process and ensure procedure was followed and no irregularities were observed in the process,” Mr Chisanga said.
In cross-examination by defence lawyer Robert Simeza, Mr Chisanga said it was not procedural for ZAWA director-general Edwin Matokwani to directly write to him to sit on the evaluation committee.
Mr Chisanga said Mr Matokwani should have instead written to the director-general of ZSIS.
He also said he was not aware that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was investigating the tender process and that he did not agree with its findings.
“I learnt that the tender was cancelled, through the media, by the Minister of Tourism on account of corruption but I disagree with the minister that the process was marred with irregularities,” Mr Chisanga said.
And Ministry of Tourism and Arts senior tourism development officer Chilala Habasimbi said the tender process was transparent.
Ms Habasimbi said the evaluation committee took into account the criterion in the bidding document and among the criteria was to check for the shareholding and directorship structure of the bidding companies.
She said blood relationships and the inclusion of the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto was not part of the criteria.
And Chief Kakumbi of Mambwe said it was customary for the community to appoint a representative to sit on the evaluation committee of tenders.
The traditional leader said ZAWA did not appoint people to be part of community resource boards because this is the responsibility of the community.
Chief Kakumbi said any minister, who allows chiefs to be involved in the administration of game in their areas, should be supported.
Former ZAWA board chairperson Larry Kalala, 58, told the Rhoyda Kaoma-led tribunal on Wednesday that his board was dissolved immediately after a meeting with Ms Masebo, in which he advised the minister to seek legal opinion on cancelling the tender process.
“I remember sometime in 2012 I had a meeting with Ms Masebo in her office where we discussed the ZAWA tender process and I advised her that she should seek legal opinion from the Attorney-General but the minister spoke with the Solicitor-General instead because the Attorney-General was not in the country,” Mr Kalala said.
He added: “After she finished talking to the Solicitor-General, she told me to go ahead and cancel the tender and I told her that I need to inform other board members so that we can discuss the matter but before we could convene, we received letters that the board had been dissolved.”
Mr Kalala said during examination-in-chief that before meeting with Ms Masebo, he talked to Attorney-General Mumba Malila on phone on whether the tender could be cancelled but Mr Malila said it was wrong to reverse the process.
He said Mr Malila directed him to talk to Solicitor-General Musa Mwenye because he was not in the country.
But in cross-examination, Mr Kalala said he could not confirm the discussion Ms Masebo and Mr Mwenye had because the minister was speaking direct to him on phone.
“But what I know is that immediately after the minister finished talking to the Solicitor-General, she told me to go ahead and cancel the tender process,” Mr Kalala said.
And ZAWA director-general Xen Vlahakis maintained that the minister is the ultimate authority of ZAWA in the absence of the board.

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