Thursday, February 28, 2013

Minister can't overrule PS, witness testifies in Dora's case

Minister can't overrule PS, witness testifies in Dora's case
By Namatama Mundia
Thu 28 Feb. 2013, 13:02 CAT

A WITNESS in a case where former transport minister Dora Siliya is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office has testified that a minister cannot overrule a permanent secretary on implementation of policy.

In this case, Siliya, the Petauke Central member of parliament is in count one alleged to have directed the cancellation of a duly awarded tender for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of the Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system to Thales Air System SA.

In count two, Siliya is alleged to have accepted a free offer from Selex Sistemi Integrati S.P.A for the repair of a radar head at the then Lusaka International Airport without following procedure.

During cross examination on Tuesday before Lusaka chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda, Cabinet Office permanent secretary in charge of administration Anna Mwitwa Mwewa, 33, said the minister cannot overrule a permanent secretary on implementation of policy because the later is a controlling officer.

She however, said the minister can overrule the permanent secretary on financial matters such as expenditure.

According to the Cabinet handbook on procurement which Mwewa read in court, it stated that a minister was supposed to refer to the permanent secretary and make it clear that he or she had no authority to commit to government expenditure as the same was vested into the controlling officer.

Mwewa outlined the various positions held by Siliya saying the former minister was first appointed commerce deputy minister by late president Levy Mwanawasa, on October 9, 2006 before being appointed as communications and transport minister in 2008.

She said Siliya resigned her position on April 2009 following a report of the tribunal on the same issues of the radar system.

Mwewa said that Siliya was re-appointed communications minister by former president Rupiah Banda before being appointed education minister.

When during re-examination on who should account for the initial acceptance of a free officer and acceptance of paying the additional costs, Mwewa told the court that the minister responsible at that moment should be responsible for the role played.

Hearing continues.

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