Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Board Chairman has chided his secretariat staff including the Director General Edington Chilapondwa for ‘leaking’ information after the board declined to approve a ‘No objection’ application for a government department recently.
In an email to Chilapondwa and secretariat staff, PPDA Board Chairman John Suzi Banda, a lawyer by profession, said he was disappointed that members of the secretariat leaked the decision of the board which declined the ‘No objection’ application.
“Last night I received some information that seemed to suggest that some of the discussions which took place at our Tuesday’s meeting in Salima regarding our decision whether to approve a certain application or seek further clarification from the applying PDE were leaked. Now, there’s a difference between going back to the PDE and stating that the Board wants this or that clarified and saying ‘the Chairman was angry with your application!’ Surely! C’mon!”
“It is not my intention to pursue this matter further. I think that as an institution we’re already dealing with more important and critical issues requiring our urgent and total focus and concentration. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be derailed with this. For the record, the leakage came from the Secretariat. Let’s do better, folks,” reads the email in part.
Suzi Banda said as Chairman of the Board, he gets all sorts of enquiries, calls, demands, ill-conceived ‘instructions’, even threats regarding some of the issues being handled by the PPDA.
“These come from all manner of people – interest groups, NGOs, senior politicians, senior government officers, suppliers and some ‘hired guns’. I have shared with some of you these challenges. It has always been my modus operandi to ensure total professional independence of everyone involved in the approval process (which seems to be the one area of most interest to many) – this is from the analyzing desk officers, their immediate supervisors, the DG and each and every member of the Board.”
Suzi Banda therefore motivates his charges that his board is out to work and send the right message by remaining professional and respecting the law.
“As I have said before, this professional independence and open and transparent debate deepens our engagement of issues before us and enriches the quality of our decisions,” said Suzi Banda.
“However, this is only possible if everyone engages on issues without fearing that their personal position on an issue shall leak out. It’s just not the right way to manage ourselves. Irrespective of the constant pressures from all manner of people, some of us have taken the default position that either ‘the Secretariat will analyze and give us their view’ or ‘that the Board shall discuss and revert with its position’ and, of course, ‘I stand by the analysis given’.”
“When such a decision is made, it is then up to me, as the leader, to explain to those that are entitled to any explanation. This is probably the worst and perhaps the most risky part of my ‘job description’. But I suppose it comes with the territory. There’s, therefore, no reason that any member of the Executive should feel pressured to explain anything to anyone,” advised Suzi Banda.
“In short, let’s de-risk the approval process from foreign contamination (either from political pressures, financial interests or whosoever) by refusing to draw a sharp focus on anyone by singling them out for their position on an issue. Don’t feel pressured to do this. I too deal with those pressures every day! It’s simply the nature of the beast! Let’s get back to work!” said Suzi Banda in the email.