Friday, March 20, 2009

Witness links Rupiah’s son Henry to RP Capital

Witness links Rupiah’s son Henry to RP Capital
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Friday, March 20, 2009 3:41:44 PM

PANGEA Renaissance Securities Limited chief executive officer Caesar Siwale yesterday told the tribunal that President Rupiah Banda's son, Henry, asked his company to provide support to RP Capital transaction over the valuation of Zamtel assets. And the tribunal has cautioned the media to desist from coining sensational and misleading headlines on stories relating to the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) David Kapitolo told the tribunal that he saw nothing wrong with the criteria that the evaluation committee used in evaluating the tender for Thales Air Services.

This is in a matter where former communications and transport minister William Harrington and ten civil society organisations had asked Chief Justice Ernest Sakala to set up a tribunal to investigate alleged corruption and abuse of office involving communications and transport minister Dora Siliya.

During examination-in-chief led by one of the petitioners' lawyers Wynter Kabimba, Caesar Siwale said Henry approached him in November last year and asked him if Pangea Securities could provide some support to RP Capital Limited over the Zamtel transaction.

Siwale said his company also undertakes valuation of companies and institutions apart from being a stock brokerage firm.

"We did have some discussions with Mr Henry Banda regarding RP Capital and the Zamtel transaction," Siwale said in response to Kabimba's question on whether his company had received any enquiry from any individual or company over RP Capital. "The discussion was whether we can provide any support in the transaction given that we had an operation within the country that provides similar services."

Siwale said Henry made the request on behalf of RP Capital Partners Limited verbally.

However, he said he could not exactly recall where the discussion took place, because he has had several discussions with Henry in different places.

Siwale said he had known Henry for close to eight or nine years and he described him as a friend of many years.

Asked if he knew Henry's parents, Siwale responded: "His father is His Excellency President Rupiah Banda."

Siwale said he was not aware if RP Capital Partners Limited was linked to any other company.

Siwale further said in examination-in-chief by another lawyer for the petitioners, Eddie Mwitwa, that he was not privy to what type of relationship existed between Henry and RP Capital Partners Limited.

In cross-examination by one of Siliya's lawyers, Eric Silwamba, Siwale said Henry was an adult and that he has had several discussions with him on various topics over the eight to nine years they have been acquaintances.

Earlier in the tribunal, National Airports Corporation (NAC) managing director testified that the corporation was apprehensive with the gratis [free] offer by Selex Sistemi Integrati to repair the obsolete radar equipment at Lusaka International Airport.

During examination-in-chief being led by Bonaventure Mutale, Misitala said the free offer from Selex was not very clear. Misitala was referring to a letter dated January 7, 2009 addressed to him from the acting director of Civil Aviation, informing him that Siliya had positively responded to the free ATM radar repair offer from Selex.

Misitala said NAC had some concerns over the Selex offer because apart from having hidden costs, which from their evaluation amounted to K26 billion, Selex was the same company that had supplied the radar equipment that has never worked since installation.

"Our conclusion as a corporation, my lord, was that the offer had hidden costs, which the corporation would not be able to meet," Misitala said. "It was not advisable to take up the offer unless our request, as earlier alluded to, were taken into consideration."

Misitala said Selex supplied the radar equipment at the Lusaka International Airport before it changed its name from Alenia Sistemi Marconi to Selex Sistemi Integrati.

"This is the company that came in February last year and indicated that the equipment was obsolete," Misitala said. "The other issue was that the offer was only referring to the radar head. Our concern was that unless the whole system is repaired, the system would not work."

Misitala said the other concern was that Selex had expressed interest in the other contract to purchase new radar equipment, which was still running.

He said on the last day of submission of the tender documents on the purchase of the new radar equipment, Selex went to the NAC offices at Lusaka International Airport to submit their bid document and asked officers there if they could call the then Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB) and tell them that Selex had taken documents to a wrong place.

"To which we declined and requested them if they could rush to ZNTB," Misitala said.

He said after the letter of January 7, 2009 he had an opportunity to meet the acting director of Civil Aviation and Siliya in the absence of the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Dr Eustern Mambwe.

"We agreed that 'since the installation of the radar facility was still ongoing, why don't we just allow Selex to go ahead in that the offer is free'," he said. "On 26 January 2009, we received a letter from the office of the Honourable minister, which was accepting the free offer."

He said in the same letter, NAC were requested to receive the Selex staff and facilitate their repairs of the radar.

Misitala said Selex was currently working on the radar but that while they contractually agreed to take about two weeks in the undertaking, they had indicated that they needed a month and half to complete the repair.

In cross-examination by Silwamba, Misitala said the tender for the purchase of the new radar facility had not been cancelled, as alleged.

And ruling on a complaint by Mutale over a headline in yesterday's Times of Zambia, which read: "Tender Director Exonerates Siliya", tribunal chairperson judge Dennis Chirwa said he had observed that some newspaper headlines on the tribunal proceedings were misleading and sensational.

Mutale had asked the tribunal to guide the media in view of the Times of Zambia headline, which he said was biased. He said even though he was aware that the tribunal could not be swayed by such headlines, there was need for the media to be objective for the sake of the observing public.

Silwamba said the caution should be given to all media institutions because he had also noted some misleading headlines that he had ignored. Silwamba said he was aware that it were editors that usually couched headlines and not reporters.

Judge Chirwa asked Mutale if he had seen the headline in yesterday's Post newspaper.

"Mr. Mutale you are complaining about the headline in the Times of Zambia but have you seen the headlines in The Post? Does judge Chitengi's comments deserve such a headline?"

The headline judge Chirwa referred to read: "Judge Chitengi Warns Dora Against Nodding Witnesses". But Mutale said he had not seen yesterday's Post.

In his ruling, judge Chirwa cautioned the media against framing sensational and misleading headlines just for the sake of selling their newspapers.

He said the tribunal was not trying to gag the media but that it was important for the media to be professional and objective in their work over the tribunal's proceedings.

Meanwhile, during examination-in-chief led by Kabimba on Wednesday, Kapitolo explained that the valuation procedure and criteria used to arrive at a bidder was clearly stated in the solicitation document and that a tender could be cancelled if evaluation criteria was not adhered to.

He said the evaluation committee adhered to the evaluation criteria and he saw nothing wrong with the evaluation criteria plus the recommended bidder Thales Air Systems.

Kapitolo told the tribunal that the Central Tender Committee (CTC) was the final adjudicating committee over procurement entities. He said the CTC was an interim committee responsible for granting authority to procurement entities on procurements above their thresholds.

Kapitolo broke down the procurement entities as entities in government organisations, parastatal organisations, ministries and the local councils.

He said the CTC would be in existence for two years and after that tender committees in various institutions would adjudicate all issues relating to procurement.

Kapitolo testified that if a procurement entity granted a tender above its threshold, it would - according to the law - be guilty of misprocurement and the procurement officer would be taken to task over such misprocurement.

Asked whether the controlling officer would be surcharged in such a case, Kapitolo said if such a scenario went on for more than three times, its functions would be moved to another procurement entity.

Kapitolo told the tribunal that a permanent secretary or chief executive officer of a procurement entity could not vary the decision of the CTC.

He said the CTC could rescind its decision in instances where maybe a procurement entity was not granted authority for a tender and such an entity got back to the CTC and the arguments were found to be plausible.

Kapitolo said after the CTC communicated their approval to a procurement entity, what they expected was a contract.

He said there have been instances of malpractices in tender processes by procurement entities and the permanent secretary responsible for a particular procurement entity handled such complaints.

Kapitolo told the tribunal that Thales Air Services was awarded the tender for radar at Lusaka International and Livingstone airports and later he received a letter from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Transport requesting that the tender be cancelled.

He testified that according to the letter he received, the tender was to be cancelled because of instructions from Siliya.

Kapitolo said this was not the first document he had received concerning cancellation of the tender as he had earlier on received instructions from Siliya to cancel the tender.

He told the tribunal that he regarded the communication from Siliya requesting for the cancellation of the tender as informal because such matters had to go through the permanent secretary. Kapitolo testified that he told Siliya by word of mouth to write to him through the permanent secretary.

He said he did not respond to Siliya's 'informal' letter because the reasons she gave to cancel the tender were not compelling enough or plausible.

Kapitolo was made to read a letter he wrote to the Ministry of Communications and Transport on behalf of ZPPA on their position on the cancellation of the tender.

He told the tribunal that none of the people he copied his letter to on ZPPA's position on the tender sent reactions disagreeing with his decision. Kapitolo said to date he had not received any enquiries from the police, Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).

Kapitolo said he received a letter from a concerned taxpayer alleging that some procurement staff at the Ministry of Communications and Transport colluded with Thales Air Services in the award of the tender and that there was something wrong in the evaluation of the tender.

He said he gave the letter to the investigative wings at the procurement entity and after the investigation, they found that there was nothing sinister about the tender process involving Thales Air Services and everything was done according to criteria.

In examination by lawyer Willie Mubanga, Kapitolo testified that there was transparency and accountability in the tender process that finally recommended Thales Air Systems.

In cross-examination by Silwamba, Kapitolo said Siliya did not cancel the tender in question.

Hearing continues.

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At 8:57 PM , Blogger Yakima said...

Really solid reporting by Mwala Kalaluka, thanks for sharing that MrK.

At 3:12 AM , Blogger Admin said...

Hey Mrk,

Could you please create a dedicated Label 'Dora Siliya tribunal' or something and link alal these reports about the trial in one thread/label.

I've been following them and in most cases it is a bit hard to follow and link the reports together with the previous report since you post them several days after.

Also would you mind posting these proceedings much earlier, so we can be up-to-date. I know The Post wouldn't like that idea but hey, it would be nice!




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