The bane of experts

The cancellation of the tender to supply television digital migration equipment raises more questions than answers.

We can safely assume that if the tender had not been cancelled, Zambia would have been the recipient of second-hand refurbished equipment using obsolete technology to migrate from analogue to digital technology, and none would have been the wiser!

How on earth did technical staff at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation accept this deal that was going to use refurbished and antiquated second-hand equipment?

But perhaps most importantly, where were the officers from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) when this deal was being developed? How did they allow the entire process develop ahead of a policy position by the government?

 Something is very wrong indeed. Where are our experts?

We ask this question because time and again, glaring examples of irregular procurement emerge in circumstances that are very difficult to understand. Two examples spring to mind. The first is the very expensive Trafigura oil procurement contract which stands unresolved and the more recently the security camera network that has also been cancelled.

In both cases, there is very unclear mention of ZPPA, which seems to have become adept at dodging sticky situations in which they should have been the major actors. By dodging they are passing the blame to politicians who are perceived as corrupt and incompetent individuals.

Similarly, the Anti Corruption Commission has developed similar skills of disappearing at critical times leaving politicians and ministry administrators holding blame when they should not.

We know that corruption through irregular award of tenders has been developed into a consummate skill.

Where were these institutions when the Trafigura oil tender was being awarded and why have they kept quite when it is very clear that the deal was expensive, irregular and an unfair punishment of the nation?

Indeed, where were these two institutions when the contract for security cameras was being awarded? An impression has been created that political officers working with their public service collaborators were behind the corrupt procurement of the service. The fact that the Minister of Home Affairs cancelled the contract renders credence to the notion that corruption was at play.

The same thing happened in the Zambia Wild Life Authority crisis where all the investigative wings who participated in the award process fell mute thereby exposing innocent individuals to blame and culpability for offences they did not commit.

We hope the new information permanent secretary will not be led down the garden path.

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