THE Ministry of Health says it erroneously added the word limited to Honey Bee Pharmacy when it was awarding a US$17 million contract to the company for the supply and delivery of health centre kits.

An investigation by News Diggers revealed that government, through the Ministry of Health last year awarded a US$17 million contract for the supply of health centre kits to a company called Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, which did not exist at the time.

In a statement, Wednesday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo claimed that Honey Bee pharmacy was duly awarded the contract.

“The Ministry of Health notes with deep concern news alleging that Government through the Ministry of Health, last year awarded a USD17 million contract for the supply of health centre kits to a company called Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, which did not exist. We wish to put the record straight as follows; in order to avert a stock out that would follow the cessation of supply by a longstanding supplier, the Ministry of Health, opted to engage other players in the pharmaceutical market for the supply and delivery of Health Centre Kits as a stop gap measure,” read the statement.

“Ten entities participated in the tender which was subject to the requisite stringent legal and administrative processes in line with the Public Procurement Act. Following the requisite administrative process, Honey Bee Pharmacy was duly awarded the contract together with two other entities. However, when it came to conveyancing of the contract for Honey Bee Pharmacy in particular, the term “Limited” was erroneously added,”

Dr Kabalo stated that adding ‘limited’ was a common phenomenon that occurred in the transcription of documents.

“Although the slip whereby the word “limited” was erroneously added, is a common phenomenon that from time to time universally occurs in the transcription of documents, the Ministry of Health holding itself to a high standard, deeply regrets the clerical error and will ensure such a slip does not recur,” read the statement.

He insisted that Honey Bee Pharmacy remained the appropriate entity awarded the contract.

He said none of the awarded entities had been paid.

“As per legal guidance, the appropriate entity awarded the contract remains Honey Bee Pharmacy as all the statutory documents in support of the bid such as certificates of registration, ZRA certificates and ZAMRA registration correctly bore the appellation “Honey Bee Pharmacy” (Without “Limited”). The contract to Honey Bee Pharmacy and two other entities was given the necessary administrative and legal approvals prior to award,” stated Dr Kabalo.

“It is critical to note that there has been NO financial or material loss on the part of government, as the terms of the contract are that Honey Bee Pharmacy and the 2 other entities that have been awarded, use their own funds to source the Health kits before they are paid.”

According to the News Diggers Investigation, records at the ministry show that a solicitation document for the tender was issued on October 7, 2019 and the evaluation of bids was done on October 22, 2019, while the contract between Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited and Ministry of Health was signed on November 22, 2019.

But Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) records do not show any company that existed prior to 2019 registered as Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited.

Research showed that Honeybee Pharmacy had been a sole trading name for an individual named Imran Lunat, with records at PACRA indicating that it was registered as a business name on April 14, 2016.

On October 16, 2019, another company called Honeybee Pharmaceuticals Limited was incorporated, with shareholders namely Zakir Husen Motala, Abdurrauf Motala and Yousouf Jasat, but according to Ministry of Health records, this was not the name of the company that was awarded the US$17 million contract. The company that was awarded the contract is Honeybee Pharmacy Limited.

Further, a search at PACRA showed that another company now called Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, which corresponds with the company that was awarded the contract, was incorporated on April 1, 2020, with shareholders namely Imran Lunat, who was also registered as a sole trader for Honeybee Pharmacy, Zakir Husen Motala and Abdurrauf Abdurrahim Motala.

When contacted to explain how Honey Bee Pharmacy was awarded a US$17 million contract when it was not incorporated at PACRA, Lunat said that was for the ministry to explain, adding that the tender process was followed.

He confirmed that the contract was not awarded to Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, which ironically appears on the tender documents, but to the sole trader Honey Bee Pharmacy.

“The contract was not awarded to the Limited, it was awarded to Honey Bee pharmacy, not Limited. Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, from what I know, was registered later on. Honey Bee Pharmacy has been running since 2015. It is the same directors, there is a group of directors who have come together, so they have created another name but the contract was not awarded to the Limited,” Lunat explained.

Asked how he won the US$17 million contract if the limited company was not registered with PACRA at the time, Lunat said he was no longer a director for the company that won the contract, as he was now working for the new owners of the company and was not responsible for decisions.

“I don’t know, you can ask them. That is something you can speak with them. I think there is a tender process that went through. I am not sitting on the board of directors. I used to be a director but I am no longer a director. So I don’t make any decisions, I don’t deal with them, I am now a worker for them,” said Lunat.