Tribunal : Cancelling ZAWA tenders was best decision – Masebo

TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo
Sylvia Masebo

TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo has said Government could not afford to award most of the 19 hunting blocs to family cartels at the expense of indigenous Zambians.
Ms Masebo said it was for this reason that Government saw it fit to direct the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to cancel the tendering process so that it could be re-advertised with the aim of ensuring equal distribution of the concessions.
She said it was not Government’s desire to discriminate against anyone, be it a foreigner or Zambian, but to ensure that the ordinary Zambians also benefitted from the hunting blocs.
Ms Masebo was testifying at the tribunal constituted to probe her for alleged interference in ZAWA operations.
The tribunal is led by acting Supreme Court judge Roydah Kaoma, who has been sitting with two members, Livingstone High Court judge-in-charge Ernest Mukulamutiyo and Lusaka High Court judge Chalwe Mchenga.
Ms Masebo, who had been on the stand for two days, said it was clear from investigations carried out that most of the companies that were to be awarded the concessions belonged to family cartels.
She said a check at the Patents and Companies Registration Authority (PACRA) revealed that more than four companies which had been selected had the same physical addresses.
She said Government’s decision to cancel and dismiss the top management at ZAWA was supported by the preliminary Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigations which confirmed that the process was marred with glaring irregularities.
Ms Masebo also revealed that the new management at ZAWA had unearthed a lot of issues which had since been forwarded to the ACC and other investigative wings for further action.
She further submitted that she did not disregard Solicitor General Musa Mwenye’s advice when she instructed ZAWA to cancel the tender.
She said ZAWA was directed by Government to cancel the tender and that it complied as it did not publish the final results of the selection.
Meanwhile, a police officer, Wilfred Chimuka, who had his employment terminated by President Michael Sata raised a concern to the tribunal yesterday, through one of Ms Masebo’s lawyers, that his letter was used in the petitioner, William Harrington’s lawyers without his consent.
The tribunal subpoenaed a witness from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) to testify before it on Monday.
Ms Justice Kaoma said the witness was being subpoenaed because some issues had been left hanging and needed clarification.
She said yesterday after Ms Masebo closed her defence that the tribunal would not close because it still had one more witness it had summoned to clarify issues relating to the ZPPA Act.