MINISTRY of Water Development and Sanitation Permanent Secretary Joe Kalusa has clarified that the contract price advertised in the Daily Mail Newspaper for the supply of 1,084 pre-paid domestic water meters should have read US$271,526 (K4,824,881.26) and not US$271,824,881.26.

And Kalusa says disciplinary action has been instituted against the officer who transmitted the wrong figures which were not agreed upon in the meeting, without following the right communication procedure.

At a media briefing, Friday, Kalusa said the erring officer personally sent the advert without first presenting it to his office for clearance.

He added that the ministerial procurement committee had earlier approved the recommendation to award the contract to ZAMART Advertising Limited at a total cost of USD 271,526.

“The right procedure for communicating any documents of such nature from the ministry is that after the committee sat and before placing that advert, they were supposed to write that advert and then bring it to the office of the permanent secretary to clear it. Now what this erring officer did was she just personally sent it. And then the figures she sent, after being asked she has not properly given reasons or why she transmitted such figures. For that reason, as a ministry, we have demanded that she explains why disciplinary action should not be taken for transmitting such figures which were not agreed in the meeting. The disciplinary action which has been taken against this officer is that this officer did not follow the procedure. The procedure which is, after generating that document she was or he was supposed to send it to her superior for clearance before it could finally come to the head of the ministry for final appending of the signature and then it goes out. So that procedure was not followed,” Kalusa said.

“The ministerial procurement committee at its meeting held on 14th February, 2022 approved the recommendation to award the contract to ZAMART Advertising Limited at a total cost of USD 271,526.00 which in Kwacha is equivalent to ZMW 4,824,881.26. In accordance with the Zambia Public Procurement Act no.8 of 2020 clause 71 (1) which states that notification of best evaluated bidder shall be published in national media, the ministry published the notice of wards in the Daily Mail Newspaper on 17th February, 2022. The ministry wishes to clarify that the stated contract price in the Daily Mail Newspaper of 17th February, 2022 amounting to USD 271, 824,881.26 should have read as USD 271,526.00.”

Kalusa said the error would have still been corrected had it not caused an uproar on social media as the original document stated the true amount deliberated by the committee.

“When a document is going and with this new technology, you have to pen down a signature, have it scanned and then you send it and as we are sending any correspondence from the ministry it should have the letterhead of this ministry. Has it not gone viral, after going through it because it was simple you just divide that figure and then that figure comes out, definitely a correction was going to be done because the original document states the true amount which the committee had deliberated. And for our own information, this was an advert before a final bidder is awarded. The law provides that it should appear in the electronic media for people to see and then after that you finally award. So that contract or that bid had not been awarded. So there is no document which went to that bidder because it is in the advert, it is being advertised so that the Zambian people and others can see it and have approval of it,” he said.

And Kalusa said this was the first time such a mistake occurred at the ministry.

“From the time I have been in this ministry, there have not been such error or such mistake. But we are saying in the first place the procedure for releasing that document was not followed. In the mind of the officer, that officer just without following the necessary procedure which is in the ministry decided to transmit that document. So in future, rules and regulations on how a document leaves the ministry are already there. A document is supposed to be transmitted through the PS giving a clearance with the consultation of the minister and then it goes to the public. So the procedure is always there and our officers, we have always been speaking to them. So we have to ensure that they have to adhere to the rules and regulations which are there regarding the transmission of documents from the ministry. That is why even a letter, when a letter is leaving the ministry we have a letterhead on it and you have to make sure that it is cleared by a senior officer at the ministry,” said Kalusa.

Meanwhile, Minister of Water Development and Sanitation Mike Mposha is expected to issue a ministerial statement in Parliament on the same matter on Wednesday.