As a follow-up to the November post on this site concerning the unethical conduct of Amos Malupenga spotted having a private meeting with Huawei officials in Namibia amid a running Digital Migration tender, I wish to shed more light on the proceedings of the tender so that the readers, particularly those charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption, can pick some leads to some obscured images of corrupt practices.
You may recall that in November 2012, government was sued by a group of companies calling themselves as Consortium of Stakeholders in the Zambian DTT program (DTT stands for Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting). Shortly after the filing in of the affidavit at the High Court and the serving of summons to the Attorney General and the Ministry of Information, the tender was announced in the papers to have been cancelled and that a new tender would be floated at a later date.
Here is what happened during a one month (December) silence on the issue. The court decided to deal with the case during the period when most firms, including the firm that was representing the consortium, were on vocational break. The notice for the hearing was served to the law firm representing the Consortium, which was known to be on break, by pushing the letter into the pigeon hole of the mailbox at the firm’s premises.
By the time the lawyers were finding out about the notice for the hearing, the date of hearing had already passed. The court had decided to squash out the case on the basis of contempt due to non appearance of the lawyers on the day of the hearing despite the serving of notice earlier. Well for the court, the summons was served on a normal government working day and the hearing was equally set for a normal working day.
So, Mr. Law Firm, to hell with your vocational holiday. It is up to you individuals to think what you like but the court is lawfully right by the book (but not in basic analytical thinking which forms 99% of existence)
Following the squashing of the court case, government, on New Year’s Eve, decided to refloat the same tender that was cancelled and gave a period of eighteen days (including weekends) for the submission of tenders. It is up to you readers to guide whether this is the opportune time for government to announce such important message on such important project.
You may be interested in knowing the contents of the affidavit filed in at the high court. Among other issues are that the government has ignored the process of formulating a policy before floating the tender; that the stakeholders have not been consulted on matters that may affect them vis-à-vis the creation of a common carrier under ZNBC such that all broadcasters ride on this network; that the lack of policy has resulted into the violation of various sections of the three media laws, competition laws and economical empowerment laws namely the IBA Act, the ZNBC Act, the ICT Act, the CEEC Act and the Consumer Protection and Competitions Act; that the Tender did not address digital Migration as envisaged by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union); that the tender did not have a technical reference standard to which the bidders designs will be measured at the point of evaluation – noting that the bidders have been asked to provide their own designs, a recipe for corruption; that the tender was designed to eliminate the participation of Zambian companies in the entire value chain contrary to the CEEC Act.
Amid the above issues, the stakeholders demanded the withdrawal of the tender and for government to proceed in the correct manner.
The stakeholders decided to take the matter to court following the failure by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services to address their demands in the petition presented to him earlier. The case was resubmitted to the high court with an explanation of the causes for the failure for the lawyers to appear on the day of the hearing. The matter is therefore still in the High Court.
The Tender finally closed on 18th January 2013 with only five companies, all Chinese, submitting the bids. The companies that submitted the bids were Star Software Technology Company Ltd. (StarTimes), ZTE, Huawei, King Tai Investments (Z) Ltd and Gospel Digital Technology.
Shocking to every soul present at the tender opening meeting at ZPPA, Huawei, offered a discount of US$45million, translating into 30% of the total bid value thus becoming the lowest bidder below US$100million while the other four bidders ranged between US$175 and US$220million. This places Huawei in an advantageous position under commercial evaluation. Huawei then needs to score favorably under the technological and track record evaluation in order to emerge as winner of the tender.
With the tender crafted in such a way that there is no clear reference to which the technology and designs offered can be measured the evaluators are at liberty to pick on anything as the best. Besides, the lack of design in the tender denotes the lack of technological appreciation capacity among the would be evaluators. It follows then that with such caliber of evaluators, Huawei’s technology offer is likely to be adopted as acceptable particularly with the influence of being the lowest cost bidder.
“The battle is won far-far away from the battle field”. The corruption in the Digital Migration project starts with the crafting of the tender. The technical inputs of the tender gives an impression that the technocrats behind it are half baked.
However, this apparent laxity in technical detail is deliberate to create a scenario that makes any desired bidder to meet the criteria.
In this case conditions have been made very favourable for Huawei to scoop the tender by leaving technical and technological specifications open ended and designing a tender that deliberately allow for a discount.
The noble way of offering a discount is after a bidder is subjected to all stages of competitive evaluation and short-listed to commercial evaluation such that such bidder is the most preferred technologically but is commercially uncompetitive.
It is very unfortunate that individuals charged with the responsibility of carrying out such important tasks on behalf of the entire Zambian community can resort to thinking that all Zambians are so daft as to fail to decode their scheme of corruption.
I leave it up to the readers to examine the information above and make your own judgment.
I want to warn all of you that are involved in conning this country that you will never go unpunished one way or the other.
If the human law enforcers are equally too corrupt to fish you out, the natural law will not fail just it has never failed.
You will die as miserable mortals because your spiritual morals are grounded to earth. If walls have got ears, then everything considered nonliving participate in life activities.
YOURS IN NATIONAL UNITY