Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader Sean Tembo has questioned the government’s continued awarding of contracts to Savenda Zambia Limited when the company failed to meet contractual obligations with a government entity in 2013.

Tembo wondered why Savenda had continued getting government contracts when the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) had recommended its blacklisting for failing to supply a 300KVA genset.

The PSPF told a parliamentary committee on Parastatal Bodies that Savenda Zambia Limited had fraudulently supplied a 160KVA generator to the Fund when it was contracted to supply a 300KVA generator at a cost of K128,384.

The Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 stated that “As a result of the contractor’s failure to meet the contractual obligations, on 15th August 2015, the Fund filed a claim in the courts of law so as to seek relief which included the refund of the 90 per cent payment made, associated legal costs, interest on the payment made and any other relief that the courts would deem necessary. However, at an ordinary procurement committee meeting held on 11th November 2015, the committee resolved that the case be withdrawn so that the Fund could retain ownership of the generator with a view of disposing it by public auction, to recoup the money paid on the generator. In this regard, following the auctioning of the generator, only K58,208 was recovered, resulting in a loss of K57,338. The rationale to withdrawal the case from the courts of law was therefore questionable.”

Tembo, in his reaction, said there was need for the contractor to be penalized in order to recover taxpayers’ money.

“It is very disappointing to note that there are suppliers like Savenda Limited who fail to meet their contractual obligations and recommendations for those suppliers to be blacklisted are not adhered to by the government procuring agencies. Our demand is that this matter of Savenda failing to supply a correct genset to the Public Service Pension Fund needs to be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies because it is an issue of fraud. So it needs to be properly investigated and then depending on the findings of those investigations by the relevant law enforcement agencies, this particular supplier needs to be penalized accordingly, both administratively and criminally,” Tembo said.

He said it was sad that a supplier who failed to deliver to one government entity would still get contracts from another government entity.

“And we are very disappointed with the conduct of government officials who have continued to give this particular supplier tenders despite the fact that this particular supplier is alleged to have failed to deliver a on a tender to a government agency…So this issue needs to be properly addressed so that our taxpayers money is put to good use. And the government needs to act in a manner that is responsible for the citizens of this Republic,” Tembo added.

He also called on law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring perpetrators to book.

“The Fund acted in a compromised manner by withdrawing the case from court without a proper reason. There is no problem with withdrawing a case from court but it needs to be based on proper settlement. So if after taking them to court, then Savenda had realized to say ‘we might lose this case so we hereby offer to provide you with a proper genset, a 300KVA that was ordered for or we are going to refund you your money in full’, then that would have been a proper settlement. But for the fund to withdraw the matter from court and yet there was no proper settlement, I think that raises a lot of dust and the officers who were involved in making that decision need to be investigated by law enforcement agencies as well because we are talking about taxpayers’ money,” said Tembo.