Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya says he has to investigate why Savenda is regularly cited in the Auditor General’s report but being in good standing with government may be one of the reasons considered for the company to be awarded the contract to supply ambulances.

And in response to queries on exorbitantly purchased ambulances, Dr Chilufya says the high cost will not deter his ministry from investing in equipment that will save people.

Dr Chilufya was responding to a question from Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwimbu, who wanted to find out why the ministry chose Savenda, which was regularly cited in the Auditor General’s report for failure to oblige to conditions of tendering.

“Honourable minister, we are all aware that Savenda is not is not a manufacturer of any vehicles nor is it a manufacturer of any medical equipment. Honourable minister, you may also be aware that Savenda is one of the companies that is regularly cited in the Auditor General’s report pertaining to failure to oblige to the conditions of tendering. What motivated your ministry to pick on Savenda taking into account what I said earlier and that this particular manufacturer is going to be a middle man and will engage other manufacturers of medical equipment and vehicles which will be used to assemble and produce the requisite ambulance?” asked Mwiimbu yesterday.

But in his response, Dr Chilufya said past performance and good standing with government may have mattered.

“Mr Speaker, I may not be privy to the specific issues that Savenda may have been cited for. And Mr Speaker, given time, I would investigate and come up with that. But in the tender process there are conditions that are clearly laid out and I’m confident that, if previous performance or being in good standing with government was a factor that was put in there, and things were brought to the fore, I’m sure that those would have been considered. But I might see Mr Speaker, as to what Savenda may have done over the years and I would request for time to investigate,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said although Savenda was not a manufacturing company, it met the conditions of the tender.

“I would like to respond by saying, this tender was advertised and people participated according to their strengths. Mr Speaker, there is also provision in the procurement law to get manufacturers authorisation to participate in a tender. So Mr Speaker, it is important that we note that any business entity is authorised or is at liberty to participate in a tender and if they are not actual manufacturers they must obtain and must include within the tender documents, manufacturers authorisation. As a matter of fact before the award is finally given, in some tenders it is written ‘subject to some inspection of the manufacturer that is cited’. I just want to console the honourable member of parliament that the provision of the tender was such that manufacturer authorisation could suffice but we are conscious of the fact that he may not be a manufacturer. Mr Speaker I thank you,” Dr Chilufya said.

And Dr Chilufya said cost could not deter the ministry from investing in equipment that would save people.

He was responding to Sesheke Central UPND member of parliament Frank Kafakwandi who asked for a comparative price of similar ambulances supplied around the world to see if the ambulances procured were within acceptable range.

“We have embarked on a robust transformation agenda where we want to provide access to health services for all Zambians. In our quest to attain universal health access we will need to invest in various infrastructure and equipment to ensure that we save every life. I must emphasize that there is justification in investing in an intermediate life supporter ambulance, in a basic life support ambulance, in an advanced life support ambulance because any of these can save a life at any time. Therefore the issue of cost is basically not to deter us from investing in equipment that will save our people,” said Dr Chilufya.