Masebo Tribunal : Allegations baseless, Masebo tells tribunal

MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo
Sylvia Masebo

MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo says the allegations brought before the tribunal investigating her alleged professional misconduct are baseless and meant to falsely show that she interfered in the operations of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
Ms Masebo denied all the allegations levelled against her and she told the tribunal yesterday that she merely directed ZAWA to implement decisions that were agreed with government.
“The intention for these allegations was to show that I was interfering at every given moment in time in the operations at ZAWA,” Ms Masebo said.
She said she consulted widely about how to run the wildlife sector and that she got information from various stakeholders including then ZAWA director general Edwin Matokwani.
Ms Masebo said she had consulted and agreed with Mr Matokwani on what should be included in the bidding document for hunting concessions licences to ensure the poor benefited from safari hunting.
She said the tender process was compromised because the people involved did things that could favour companies that they wanted to the licences to be awarded to.
Ms Masebo said she was advised by the solicitor general Musa Mwenye to direct ZAWA to cancel the tender for hunting concession licences, saying that the bidding document had lost credibility because of the numerous amendments that were made to it.
She said Mr Matokwani knew about the queries regarding the irregularities in the tender process and that he did not do anything about it because he was allegedly involved in the corrupt activities.
“Mr Matokwani was involved in the corruption at ZAWA. How could he give six blocks to one family?” she asked.
Ms Masebo said it was discovered that directors in six companies that were selected as preferred bidders belonged to one family when it was agreed in a meeting between the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, ZAWA and other stakeholders not allow family cartels.
She said six hunting blocks were scheduled to be awarded to these companies and that Government had to ensure that this was not entertained.
“It was discovered that six companies had allegedly similar addresses and that all the companies were related to one family. It was not correct to give the hunting block to this cartel,” she said
Ms Masebo said the irregularities were confirmed by the Anti-Corruption Commission report which justified the halting of the tender.
And ZAWA head of procurement Manus Simwanza has told the tribunal that Edwin Matokwani management used a wrong procedure to consider the tender process for the 19 hunting blocks.
Mr Mwanza said in examination-in-chief that the evaluation team appointed to look into the tender process of 19 hunting blocks used the quality-based scoring system which is used when seeking professional consultancy services and not tender process.
In cross-examination, he said Ms Masebo could only have interfered in the tender process if she was involved in the procurement process.
And tribunal chairperson Rhoyda Kaoma said the tribunal has subpoenaed a witness from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) to clarify how the tender process should be conducted.
Justice Kaoma said an official from ZPPA will appear before the tribunal on Monday to clarify the procurement procedure.