ATTORNEY General Likando Kalaluka SC says he has advised the Ministry of Health to change the name of the company that was awarded the US$17 million medical supply contract from Honeybee pharmacy Limited to Imran Lunat, the individual who was trading as Honeybee Pharmacy.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health issued a statement saying 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 last year.
The ministry was reacting to an investigation by News Diggers that revealed that the ministry 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.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo claimed that it was just a clerical error that the word “Limited” was added to the sole trader company that was awarded the contract.
“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. 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.
But when asked what name appeared on the bid documents that were availed to him for scrutiny, the Attorney General explained that the tender that he okayed was to be awarded to Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited”.
Responding to a press query, Kalaluka revealed that when he cleared the health centre kits tender awarded by the Ministry of Health, the name that appeared on the documents was Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, but went further to state that the follow up support documents did not have the word “Limited”.
“The first time l cleared the contract, it showed HoneyBee Pharmacy Limited. But subsequently, the Ministry wrote to me availing all the documents submitted in support of the tender herein and all such documents do not bear “Limited”.
The documents availed to me include: (a) receipt for purchase of bid documents (b) ZRA tax registration certificate (c) ZRA tax clearance certificate (d) certificate of registration for Honeybee Pharmacy (e) pharmaceutical Licence from Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority. All these documents submitted for the tender had Honeybee Pharmacy, WITHOUT ‘limited’.
He said he has since advised the ministry to correct the record and show that the contract was awarded to an individual who had a sole trader business name called Honey Bee Pharmacy.
“To correct the error, l have since advised the Ministry of Health that a Deed of Rectification need to be executed to change the name from Honeybee pharmacy Limited to Imrat Lunat t/a Honeybee Pharmacy.
Asked if he was aware if the sole trader individual had demonstrated financial capacity to deliver on the tender, the Attorney General said: “My office does not look at the financial capacity of bidders.”
Asked if he took time to check if the company that was awarded the contract had met the requisite conditions regarding regulatory license approvals, he said: “I am not aware of any failure to obtain any licence or approvals.”
Asked which company the State would pursue in the case of breach of contract, since there was now another company called Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, kalaluka said government would go for Imran Lunat as an individual.
“In case of liability, government would pursue the sole trader and not the limited liability company because the contract is with the sole trader,” said Kalaluka, adding that “It’s not unusual to award a contract to a sole trader.”
During the investigation process, Lunat told news Diggers that he was no longer a Director for the company that won the contract and he does not make decisions.
Asked how he won the US$17 million contract when 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.
“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.