The State’s third witness in the Immigration Department procurement contracts case involving businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala and three others made a U-turn in faulting former Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) director Bright Mangulama.
During examination-in-chief by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma on Thursday, the State witness Gerald Mabveka faulted Mangulama for granting a no-objection in extending Batatawala’s procurement contract.
But during cross-examination on Friday by one of the defence lawyers, Nuru Alide, Mabveka, 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 the director could not be faulted for making certain decisions.
He told the court that the director, Mangulama (now deceased), could grant a no-objection at his discretion upon reviewing documents provided and that if further information was needed, he would be at liberty to ask for it.
The State witness also told the court that the director could approve a no-objection request where an officer he appointed has reviewed and provided recommendations.
“In situations where the director would review the documents by himself and grants the no-objection, he could not be faulted since he acted in his powers,” Mabveka told the court.
Responding to Alide’ s questions on who granted the no-objection, Mabveka said he did following instructions from his former boss and further gave directions on extending the contract.
He, however, told the court that in signing the approval for the no-objection, he believed the director of public procurement must have seen and went through the list of items in the extended contract.
In addition, Mabveka told the court that although he did not see the list of new items in the extended contract when issuing a letter of no-objection, he could not challenge the director since the approval was already granted.
After the cross-examination was concluded, senior resident magistrate Martin Chipofya adjourned the matter to the week starting June 20 2022 when the State will parade more witnesses. Batatawala is facing trial alongside former Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services chief immigration of f i cer Elvis Thodi, the department’s commissioner responsible for operations Fletcher Nyirenda and deputy director Limbani Chawinga.