One of the State witnesses in a case involving businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala and three others has faulted former Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) director Bright Mangulama for granting a no objection extending procurement contract.
The witness, Gerald Mavete, who was the principal regulatory officer at the ODPP before it was changed to Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, told the court that Mangulama (now deceased) flouted some procedures in granting a no objection for Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services to extend the procurement contract with Africa Commercial Agency owned by Batatawala.
During examination in-chief, Mavete testified yesterday that Mangulama granted the no objection without engaging a special committee which looked into procurements contracts.
But in cross examination, one of Batatawala’s lawyers Alexius Nampota asked Mavete why he has seen the irregularity now when the no objection to extend the contract was granted about 12 years ago.
He said: “There were some mistakes which you could have raised when you were handling the documents.
“You never told them not to extend the contract, so it is not right that Africa Commercial Agency should be answerable.
“Soyou want to blame Mr [Masauko] Thodi yet, the origin of this case square-line from the ODPP and you would have been in the dock.”
He told the court that Mavete is a negligent officer and was supposed to be in the dock and not in the witness box.
In his response, Mavete said granting a no objection does not mean the department could do whatever they wanted.
Batatawala is on trial alongside former Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi, the department’s commissioner responsible for operations Fletcher Nyirenda and deputy director Limbani Chawinga. The four were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in mid-December 2021 in relation to suspected corrupt practices in the procurement contracts for uniforms and other accessories at the department between 2009 and 2012.