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ZESCO CLEARED OVER WOODEN POLES

By OLIVER SAMBOKO

ZESCO did not break any law when it used a limited bidding procurement method to acquire wooden poles from outside the country, the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) has found.

This follows a complaint by former Zambian ambassador to Ethiopia, and Permanent Representative to the AU, Emmanuel Mwamba against Zesco over the shortlisting of foreign companies for the procurement of supply and delivery of nine and 12-metre wooden poles.

Mr Mwamba also reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the issue.

But in a letter to Mr Mwamba dated May 23,  2022, ZPPA Director General, Idah Chulu stated that the use of limited bidding procurement method by Zesco to acquire the wooden poles was within the law.

She said the power utility company relied on Section 42(2) of the Public Procurement Act No. 8. Of 2020 which provided that when there is an urgent need for the goods, works or services and engaging open bidding would be impractical, the limited bidding procurement method should be used.

Mr Mwamba in his complaint stated that the decision by Zesco to spend in excess of $107 million on foreign companies when the ZPPA Act of 2020 provided that the first float of such a tender was to be afforded to citizen suppliers, was not transparent.

He said both the Zambia Manufacturers Association and the Timber Association of Zambia had affirmed that enough materials existed in the country to meet Zesco’s needs.

Mr. Mwamba also said both ZAFFICO and the Copperbelt Forestry Company had capacity to supply the wooden poles and should have been given preference in the supply tender as local suppliers.

Energy Minister, Peter Kapala defended Zesco’s decision to procure the wooden poles from manufacturers and primary sources as opposed to getting them from middle men was meant to cut on costs.

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