Radar system contract a fraud-Mulongoti

The procurement of the Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System for the three international airports namely the Kenneth Kaunda International, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula in Livingstone and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in Ndola is pure fraud, says People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti.

The tender has been awarded to a South African companies  and Mulongoti said that the whole process was a fraud that should be cancelled with immediate effect to save the country from losing millions of Dollars.

Mulongoti said this after serious and incriminating controversies emerged indicating that the prices were inflated by officials at the ministry in order to benefit from the deal.

When contacted to clarify the Radar contract, Works and Supply Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said that he was driving and that the reporter should get back to him after two hours.

And after two hours the author called him and the same excuse was advanced, ‘I am still driving boss call me after an hour.’

The controversy rose after government through the Ministry of Works and Supply awarded to an airport RADAR contract a South African Company that was the highest bidder which had inflated the bidding prices without any explanation as to why they did that.

The Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) expressed indignation in the manner the Ministry conducted the tender process without following the laid down procedures, saying that the ministry breached the conditions thereby disadvantaging other bidders with cheaper offers compared to Thales making Zambia lose more than K10 million (Billion).

The Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications had on April,5th 2013 invited tenders for the contract which was eventually awarded at a total cost of 13,513 536.00 Euros instead of 12,285, 330 Euros originally planned with no significant explanation for the upward variation in pricing.

But Mulongoti has urged Mukanga to cancel the tender in consultation with the Attorney General Mumba Malila.

In an interview yesterday Mulongoti said that the entire tender process was a fraud from the beginning and therefore government and the ministry could not justify the awarding of the tender to the highest bidder.

He said that the revelations about the inflation of figures was a serious matter of corruption which needed to be dealt with by the Anti-Corruption Commission because no one had taken time to explain why the Ministry decided to inflate the figures.

According to the documentation obtained by the Daily Nation from ZPPA, five companies were shortlisted after being invited to bid for the tenders and only three managed to bid.

However, they were informed that the ministry had already awarded the tender and what they were doing was window-dressing.

The companies that were shortlisted for the tenders were Indra Company, Westinghouse, Lockheed Martin, Thales ATM (Pty) Limited and Raytheon Canada (Pty) Limited.

Mulongoti said: “According to what we are seeing even ZPPA is not happy in the manner the ministry handled the whole tender processes. It is like the ministry bulldozed the awarding of the tender to their preferred company whose credibility is highly questionable. Why should we go the Trafigura way where we have to defend the company.”

Mulongoti who is also former minister of Works and Supply said that it was unacceptable and Zambians must rise above political affiliation and challenge the PF government and ZPPA to explain the inflation of the price and why the highest bidder was awarded the contract.

He said that, “this is an unacceptable, this is public money. There is no tender which must be awarded without authority and ZPPA gives authority to all government tenders. So being a matter of public interest I challenge ACC to move in and investigate the awarding of the tender to Thales, the inflation of the figure and who got the cut. Why should ACC become mute on the matter, why should they wait for people to raise these issues?”

“The Honorable thing Mukanga should do is to cancel the tender and save the country from loosing huge sums of money and explain to the people the corruption involved in the procurement of the system,” Mulongoti said.

The officials also said that Thales Air System was also given an allowance to extend its bid period which was not the case with the rest of the bidders.