The Trial for the former minister of Communications and Transport Minister in the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government, Dora Siliya, has today opened in the Lusaka Magistrate Court.
Ms. Siliya is charged with abuse of authority of office.
She is alleged to have directed the cancellation of a duly awarded contract for the installation of a radar system at the Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, formerly Lusaka International Airport when she was minister.
And the first witness in the case told the Lusaka Magistrate Court that a cabinet minister has no authority to commit to government expenditure because the authority is vested in the Permanent Secretary who is the controlling officer of a ministry.
Bernard Kampasa, 44, who is Acting Permanent Secretary of Finance and Economic Development at Cabinet Office, was testifying in a matter in which Ms. Siliya is charged with abuse of authority of office.
Mr. Kampasa referred the court to the revised edition of the Cabinet Handbook of July 2002 chapter eight, page 26 and paragraph 8.22, which reads in part..."Ministers should refer to the Permanent Secretary all persons who may approach them in connection to with the procurement of goods and services. The minister approached should have it clear that they have no authority to commit government to expenditure".
However, the defence team, comprising Eric Silwamba and Zinda Linyama, asked Mr. Kampasa during cross examination if he was aware that a minister has power to nullify decisions made by a Permanent Secretary.
In response, Mr. Kampasa said he was not aware.
And the defence refused to accept evidence provided in court by 54 year old Betty Sombe, who is the second witness in the matter.
The team claimed that some of the documents presented as evidence in court were not original copies hence they should be certified true copies of the original by relevant authorities.
Ms. Sombe, a Board Secretary at Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), provided records and minutes of the meeting that was held on December 5, 2008 in connection with the case.
The team therefore applied to the court not to allow the evidence provided by Ms. Sombe to be admitted as part of the evidence in court.
Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda has since reserved ruling on the authenticity of the documents to Thursday July 12, 2012 saying he needed time to go through the documents.