Ministry of Information says it is set to pay national and community radio and television stations this month for their dissemination of Covid-19 daily updates.
The payments are for January to March this year and based on the agreement between the ministry and the broadcasters, they were to be made in two tranches at the end of every 30 days counting from February 28.
A letter dated August 3 signed by Francis Bisika on behalf of Secretary for Information, says the delays in payments were a result of procurement procedural lapses at the time contracts were awarded to the broadcasters.
The letter states that procurement processes of the broadcasting services were supposed to follow the Public Procurement Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) guidelines issued in April, which was not done.
Reads the letter in part: “Some of the steps stipulated in the guidelines are the requirement to follow open tendering method through publication of invitations to tender on the PPDA website and subsequently publish a list of all service providers identified to provide the services.
“This was not done in the case for media houses and the Ministry of Information, as chair of the communication cluster on Covid-19, engaged the PPDA to obtain authority to pay the broadcasters.”
The letter further states that the ministry has cleared all the procurement issues and that the payments will be made mid August.
While acknowledging receipt of the letter, Association of Community Radios chairperson Luciano Milala on Sunday said they will engage President Lazarus Chakwera if the ministry will not honour the payments.
“It’s high time that they pay the community radio stations because failure to pay them is choking their services,” he said.
In April, the association also wrote the ministry demanding the payments, further alleging that two selected national broadcasters were paid.
However, Ministry of Information deputy director of information Arthur Chipenda allayed the allegations, saying the ministry was processing the payments.