The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed with costs an application by two firms that had dragged the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services to stop an award of a contract to upgrade the Passport Issuance System (PIS) and the introduction of Electronic Passports to a rival company.
Ruling in MSCA civil appeal case No. 75 2018 filed by Iris Group SA and Challenge International against the Department of Immigration, Judge Lovemore Chikopa on Friday questioned the applicants’ merit of grounds, saying the applicants’ bid had failed.
Reads the ruling in part: “On the other hand, we cannot fail to notice that the applicants bid actually failed. The reasons, therefore, have not been disputed by the applicants despite them having ample time and space so to do.
“It raises a strong possibility of merit in the grounds. Then there is the question of indemnity. This is a big money contract. Would the applicants be in a position to pay damages if it turned out that the injunction was wrongly obtained?”
According to court documents, on December 21 2018 the High Court ordered and directed that the department be restrained from awarding a K27 billion contract until a judicial review was done.
Another sitting of the court on December 28 2018 set aside the earlier ruling, putting aside the injunction and removal of leave for judicial review awarded to Iris Group SA which freed the Immigration Department to proceed in awarding of the contract to Two Trees Investments, a local company which partnered with a Belgian firm, Zetes.
But Iris Group SA and Challenge International sought a fresh injunction from the Supreme Court of Appeal, whose ruling did not go the applicants’ way.
Immigration Department spokesperson Joseph Chauwa in an interview on Monday said the ruling has vindicated the department stand that it did not flout any procedures and was proceeding with the tendering process.
Counsel for the applicants Clement Mwala was not available for comment as his phone could not be reached.
His co-counsel on the case, Alinane Kauka, said as a co-counsel he was not the right person to speak on the case.
According to bid documents we have seen, 10 companies were shortlisted but the three companies submitted their proposals by the closing date of November 23 2018.
The three, Two Trees Investments, Iris Group SA and Techno Brain Global FZE, responded to an invitation by the Immigration in November to bid for the contract to procure the stated services.
After Two Trees Investment was awarded the contract, Iris Group SA and its partner Challenge International challenged the decision, citing irregularities in the tendering and procurement process.
They argued that the Immigration Department contravened its own instructions that companies invited to submit bid documents for a contract may not be allowed to partner. But the department argued that Zetes had withdrawn from participating and it did not tender its bid.