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 2010-04-11 03:32 pm Back to NEWS
NCC spends K1.8bn on microphones
Delegates to the NCC during deliberations on Friday - Picture by Thomas Nsama

THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Secretariat has procured microphones at a cost of about K1.8 billion when the conference is almost winding up.

But NCC secretary Russell Mulele said the procurement of the microphones could not be cancelled for fear of attracting contractual liabilities.

Meanwhile, MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga said by discussing and debating the compilation of a list of delegates that were fond of loitering outside during NCC business, the conference will be attracting negative media coverage on itself.

Well-placed sources disclosed that the microphones were brought about two weeks ago but that they were installed in the conference hall on Wednesday night prior to the commencement of their usage on Thursday afternoon.

The sources said instead of coming in original boxes, the microphones came in wooden boxes that were still placed in one of the storerooms within Mulungushi International Conference Centre.

They said the procurement of the black microphones that proved problematic on the first day of their utilisation was allegedly spearheaded by a group of officers within the NCC Secretariat.

“The microphones were tested over the long weekend but the installation commenced on Wednesday night,” the source said. “Why have they bought these microphones when the NCC is almost coming to an end?”

Last Thursday afternoon when the NCC delegates were debating the report of the Human Rights Committee, one of the delegates Mwenda Lishebo had problems making a point using the new microphones, which had been placed on some of the tables in the conference hall.

At one point two microphones mistakenly came on and NCC chairman Chifumu Banda was compelled to ask the person behind one of them whether they wanted to get his attention or the microphone came on accidentally.

“Do not step on the cables,” Banda was heard telling the delegates as technicians moved around to work on the failing public address system.

Banda was heard remarking that the old system, which involved the usage of strategically positioned cordless microphones, worked much better than the new system.

Another source confirmed that there was an operational complication with the microphones because the supplier did not bring the right card that should have been installed in a computer to program the public address.

“We installed them on Wednesday night but the supplier brought a wrong card. So the technicians were forced to make a direct connection,” the source said.
“They have not finished placing microphones in the entire conference room.”

But Mulele said the procurement process usually takes long and that this was the case with the procurement of the microphones in question.

“The process of buying anything takes long. The advert was done sometime back and we had to follow all those processes including tender,” Mulele said. “We could not cancel because there was going to be some liability and it was already a contract.”

Mulele said he could only provide the cost and supplier of the equipment, which people have said was failing, if he was in the office.

“I do not have those details at the moment. We are yet to call in the supplier so that they can go through the system with our technicians,” said Mulele.

Meanwhile, during the consideration of minutes in the NCC on Friday morning, Solwezi’s chief Mumena asked Banda whether the list of delegates who were fond of chatting outside during proceedings in the house had been compiled as instructed by Banda the previous day.

Banda said the names had been taken down and that more would be taken down the very day and next Tuesday to see if there was something systematic about the habit of some of these delegates.

A delegate, Joseph Mujuda was heckled by other members when he suggested that the names of the truants should be availed to the members there and then.

But Banda said the names would be availed at an appropriate time because they did not want to forewarn the concerned delegates.

“A record is being kept. We have a record,” Banda said.

Another member Daunte Saunders asked that the NCC members that once in a while went out to smoke should be forgiven but Banda said none of the people on the list of loiterers were smokers.

“The only difference is that the group was not smoking,” said Banda.

However, Mabenga said the matter should not be discussed in such a manner in the presence of members of the press because it could attract some negative coverage from the media.

“This matter should not be discussed or debated upon,” said Mabenga.

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