The Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) says it has launched investigation into the Ministry of Health tender number MoH/SP/032/19 for the supply of 50,000 health centre kits, under which an individual called Imran Lunat and two other companies were awarded a US$17 million contract.
ZPPA was reacting to an investigation by News Diggers that revealed that the Ministry of Health 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.
On Wednesday last week, the Ministry of Health issued a statement saying it erroneously added the word “limited” to Honey Bee Pharmacy when it was awarding the US$17 million contract to the company.
But a day later, the Attorney General said he had 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.
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”.
“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’. 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,”he said.
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.”
But responding to a press query, ZPPA said it could not answer the questions posed by this reporter because the matter was now under investigation.
“The Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) has launched investigations into the matter. Providing responses to these questions at this stage would compromise the ongoing investigation. ZPPA plays a regulatory and oversight function pursuant to Section 6 of the Public Procurement Act. In discharging its function, the Authority shall
uphold fairness, accountability, integrity, mutual respect, transparency, confidentiality, professionalism and excellence,” stated ZPPA Principal Officer for Public Relations, Laura Mushaukwa-Hamusute.