AN official from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) has said it was negligence of duty for the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) not to suspend the tendering process for 19 hunting concessions despite the glaring inconsistencies that marred the process.
ZPPA director of inspections and standards Gloria Ngoma told the tribunal appointed to investigate Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo’s alleged interference in the operations of ZAWA that it was wrong to allow the tendering process to continue running when it had departed from the terms of reference in the soliciting document.
Ms Ngoma said there was inconsistency in the procurement process of the tender and as such, it should have been cancelled by the approval authority.
She told the Roydah Kaoma-led tribunal that under the ZPPA Act, there were two approvals of authorities namely, the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company or controlling officer (permanent secretary), and the procurement committee that had the authority to cancel a tender.
She said while the procurement committee had unlimited authority, the CEO or controlling officer only had powers to cancel a tender not exceeding the K50, 000 threshold.
Ms Ngoma said the act only gave power to the two approval authorities to cancel a tender if they discovered that there were insufficient funds for the procurement, no responsive bids, received tendencies of collision among bidders, and if there was evidence of corrupt practices by a public officer or any other.
She said the ZPPA Act required that if the process departed from what had been stipulated in the soliciting document of the tender, the process should be cancelled.
Ms Ngoma said when there was dereliction of duty in the case of the ZAWA tender, the authority should have recommended for the suspension of the process.
She said the ZAWA tender was a two-stage envelope bid but did not follow the quality based scoring system which was mentioned would be followed in the document.
Ms Ngoma said that ZAWA did not follow the specification in the bidding document and, therefore, there was inconsistency in the scoring process.
“The act says if there is departure in the process, then the authority should recommend for the suspension of the process.
“If the authority does not do that there would be dereliction of duty,” Ms Ngoma said.
On the inclusion of chiefs and Community Resource Boards (CRBs) in the evaluation process, Ms Ngoma said the tendering process was open to the public at the stage of opening of technical proposal, but that it was a closed process during the evaluation process which involved the opening of financial proposals.
She, however, said that the authority was at liberty to include chiefs and CRBs at the initial stage of the proposal and not when it had reached the evaluation stage.
Ms Ngoma said at the time ZAWA requested for an opinion from ZPPA on whether it could include chiefs and CRBs, ZPPA was meant to understand that the technical process had already been concluded.
She told the tribunal that under the ZPPA Act, both Ms Masebo and President Michael Sata had no powers to direct the cancellation of the tender.
She, however, said she had no understanding of the scope of executive powers vested in the President.
The tribunal yesterday closed its hearing and was expected to hand over its recommendations to the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly by March 30, 2014.
Ms Masebo and the petitioner, former Communications and Transport minister William Harrington, are today expected to file their written submissions to the tribunal.