5 November 2012

Zambia: Court Grants Contractor Leave to Commence Judicial Review Over UNZA Hostels Rehab

THE Lusaka High Court has granted a local contractor leave to commence judicial review in a matter in which the company is challenging Government's decision to award contracts for the rehabilitation of hostels at the University of Zambia (UNZA) to foreign contractors.

High Court Judge, Annie Sitali is this Friday, however, expected to rule on whether or not the same would operate as a halt to the awarding of the contract until the determination of the matter.

The hostels in question, namely Kafue Hostels Blocks, 1 and 5, and October Hostels Blocks 1 and 2, are to be used during the Zone Six Games which Zambia will host from December 4 to December 17, 2012.

This is in a case in which Line Out Investment Limited, one of the contractors that bid for the project, is seeking an injunction to restrain the Ministry of Education from awarding the said contract to Wah Kong Enterprises Limited and Wall Tech Enterprises Limited.

Line Out Investment Limited wants the Lusaka High Court to order the ministry to put on hold the awarding of the contract to the two foreign constructing companies pending the determination of the whole matter by the court.

The company has further asked the court to quash the decision by the ministry to award the contract for the rehabilitation of the hostels.

Line Out Investment Limited claims that the awarding of the tender to a foreign company was a violation of the law as provided for under Sections 19 of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) Act number 9 of 2006 and the Zambia Public Procurement Authority Act number 12 of 2008.

The said law gives preferential treatment to local groups or companies in the awarding of Government contracts.

The firm said Statutory Instrument number 36 of 2011 on preferential procurement regulations issued by the Minister of Finance was supposed to be made applicable and mandatory to all public procurement.

By virtue of not following the laid down procedure, the ministry rendered the contracting process illegal and unreasonable and as such it was to the company's disadvantage.

It contends that the move by the ministry to award the contracts to the successful bidders without giving notice to all other bidders was irrational and that the failure by Government to give it a 10-day window period before effecting the award deprived Line Out Investment Limited of an opportunity to air its grievances.

The matter comes up for inter-parte hearing on Friday.

Meanwhile, Varun Beverages Limited, the manufacturer of Pepsi soft drinks, has dragged some Lusaka residents to court for illegal occupation of its piece of land in Lusaka's light industrial area.

Varun has sued Betty Kalonga and others for alleged illegal occupancy of stand number 38131, in the light industrial area.

According to an affidavit in support of originating summons filed before the Lusaka High Court principal registry and sworn by Varun commercial director, Satyanarayan Sharma of F2 Mukuba Pension Complex, Jesmondine, Varun was the beneficial owner of the land in contention.

Mr Sharma said Varun was issued with certificate of title number 16571 in relation to the said stand and a title was issued in the name of Varun.

He said Ms Kalonga and others had no legal right to or claim to occupy the premises and as such they were illegally staying on the piece of land.

Mr Sharma wants the Lusaka High Court to order for the possession of the stand which he said legally belonged to Varun.

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