A state witness has testified in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) director Hope Ndhlovu approved procurement of catering services above her threshold without authority from the Ministry of Justice.
Muyunda Namushi, 42, head of procurement Ministry of Justice, testified that the threshold in the procurement of goods and services for the director of ZLDC was currently at K50,000.
This is in the matter in which ZLDC director Hope Ndhlovu Chanda is facing two counts of corrupt acquisition of public property involving over K120,000.
In the first count Chanda 42, of Lusaka West, is alleged to have on dates unknown but between June 1, 2016 and June 32, 2017 in Lusaka willfully failed to comply with laid down procedure by awarding a contract in the sum of K60,000 to Chipo Mushota Nkhata for consultancy work in the Law Reform Audit (constitutional conformity), a matter or transaction which involved the Zambia Law Development Commission, a public body.
In count two, allegations are that Chanda on dates unknown but between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2016 in Lusaka willfully failed to comply with laid down procedure by awarding a contract in the sum of K61,306.00 to Vinnid Innovations to provide catering services for the Gender-based Violence Fast Courts launch, a matter or transaction which involved the ZLDC, a public body.
When the matter came up for commencement of trial before magistrate Greenwell Malumani, Monday, Namushi testified that the ministry had no records of the transactions linked to the arrest and subsequent prosecution of the accused person.
“What I remember is that the officer who came from ACC wanted to establish the process that is followed in the procurement of goods and services in the ministry. And also went on further to inquire on a number of particular transactions which are said to have happened at ZLDC and whether they came through the ministry of procurement committee through the secretariat. One had to do with the engagement of a company to provide catering services during some launch event. The other procurement was to do with the engagement of some consultant for some legal related assignments,” Namushi said.
“The question was whether those requisitions had come through our office. The reaction from my office was that we did not record any of those particular transactions. The value for those transactions, the one to do with the launch was something over K60,000, then the other one to do with the consultancy was something to do with over K100,000.”
He said in instances where ZLDC had to procure goods and services, they did write to the Ministry of Justice to request for procurement committee authorization for such particular requisitions.
Namushi said the current threshold for the director at ZLDC for the procurement of goods and services was K50,000, beyond that the contract had to be sent to the procurement committee.
“Zambia Law Development Commission is one of the statutory bodies under the Ministry of Justice. So far the interaction has been such that when the commission, Zambia Law Development, in instances where they have had to made procurement of goods and services, they do write to the ministry addressing the PS to request for procurement committee authorization for such particular requisitions. And then the PS upon receipt will issue instructions to the procurement unit, which is the secretariat, to process the request accordingly,” he said.
“And after the secretarial part is done, the ministry procurement committee then convince to make decisions. They decide over such a given request. And once the decision is made by the committee, communication is made to the director or CEO of Zambia Law Development Commission in writing. The director is also referred to as the CEO. The threshold for a CEO at the moment is K50,000, beyond that it has to go the procurement committee. That guidance is the public procurement regulations of 2011, as SI number 63.”
He cited an example of a recently handled procurement in which the director of ZLDC wrote to the PS at the Ministry of Justice to purchase a vehicle for the deputy director at the commission, costing about k302,000.
“The most recent one, to do with the procurement of a motor vehicle, the director of ZLDC did write to the permanent secretary administration seeking authority to purchase a motor vehicle for the newly recruited deputy director at ZLDC. That request was processed through the ministry procurement committee and authority was granted and the vehicle has since been delivered to the commission. The value of the procurement was K302, 000. That was May, June 2018, quite recent. We have had a number of other requisitions which I may not itemise coming from ZLDC,” he said.
And in cross examination by the defence counsel, Namushi said ZLDC did not have a procurement committee.
Asked whether he had ever inquired that indeed there was no procurement committee at ZLDC, Namushi replied in the negative.
Meanwhile, acting director policy research and standards at the Ministry of Finance Chomba Kabwe told the court that management of public funds or general revenues accruing to the republic should be in line with the public finance or procurement act or any other public financial management law in Zambia.
Kabwe said whenever money was accrued to the republic, an institution managing those funds had an obligation to comply with both the public financial management laws in Zambia and guidelines.
“A donor will have it’s own guidelines as to management of their donated funds however when those funds are through to the republic as donations, then an institution managing those funds has an obligation to comply to both the public financial management laws in Zambia and guidelines,” said Kabwe.