Senior government officials have told the Watchdog that according to The Public Roads ACT No.12 of 2002 which established the RDA, the Legal Status of the Agency is that it is a corporate body whose functions, powers, and composition are well stipulated.
According to government sources, Section 6(5) of the ACT is also abundantly clear that the Agency shall report to the Committee of Ministers on Road Maintenance Initiative.
“Therefore, what President Sata has done is very illegal and should henceforth rescind his ill-advised attempt to takeover RDA from the Ministry of Transport or the supervision of the Link-Zambia 8000 and other road projects from the Ministry of Works and Supply” sources said.
Sources further said it will be difficult for Zambia to attract direct funding into the road sector from international financiers such as World Bank and IMF because all activities under the Office of the President are normally classified hence difficult to audit.
Justice Minister, Wynter Kabimba last night during the ZNBC Sunday interview programme declined to comment on why Sata grabbed RDA because he not sure about the actual reasons but hoped that the president acted in public interest.
Kabimba’s ignorance clearly showed that their was no cabinet meeting that sat to decide the move.
Yesterday, the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) expressed disappointment and concern at the decision by President Michael Sata to transfer the Road Development Agency (RDA) from the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication to State House.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichielama says the move will just facilitate more corruption as it revolves around one person.
Hichilema says the move is also meant to protect corrupt practices that will ensue as RDA will now be classified.
‘As a party that believes in sustainable national development, we strongly believe that concentrating powers and responsibilities in the hands of the president is a recipe for bad governance and should not be allowed,’ said Hichilema.
“The President has used an argument of lack of accountability and transparency at RDA in the procurement for roads as the reason for his unilateral action. As UPND, we agree with the well-founded widespread fears by various stakeholders, that the fundamental principles of accountability and transparency in the procurement of road works are even at a more risk of being seriously compromised at State House.”
Hicheilema said there is genuine fear that most road tenders will be given to those perceived to be politically correct and have access to the President at the expense of deserving contractors who may not have access to State House.
He said It is further difficult to imagine how an institution that will be controlled from the Office of the President will be genuinely audited and be questioned by investigative wings in case of suspicions of corruption or fraud, since most of the activities under that office are normally highly classified.