A FRESH investigation has revealed that Honeybee Pharmacy, a sole trader that was awarded the US$17 million contract for the supply of Health Centre Kits under the Ministry of Health, was given a wholesale Pharmaceutical Licence by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA), despite failing to meet the requirement.

Last month, the Ministry of Health issued a public apology for “erroneously adding the word ‘limited'” to Honeybee Pharmacy when awarding the tender, but insisted that all provisions of the public procurement Act were observed.

This was before Attorney General Likando Kalaluka also confirmed approving the tender on grounds that it met the requirements of the law.

But according to a letter dated August 28, 2019 addressed to the Director at Honeybee Pharmacy, signed by ZAMRA Director for Medicines Control Dr Z. Munkombwe, Honeybee Pharmacy failed to meet 20 inspection conditions for the award of the prerequisite Pharmaceutical License, without which it could not win the medical supply tender under the Ministry of Health.

“Dear Sir, deficiencies noted during the pre-licensing inspection of Honeybee Pharmacy. A pre-licensing inspection for grant of Pharmaceutical Licence of your premises situated at plot No737 Great North Road, Chaisa, Lusaka, was conducted on 27th August 2019 and the following deficiencies were observed:
1. The pharmacy personnel engaged were not present at the inspection.
2. There was no copy of the Health Professions Council of Zambia full registration certificate for both pharmacist and pharmacy technologist engaged.
3. There was no valid HPCZ annual practicing certificate for the pharmacy technologist engaged.
4. There were no contracts as proof of employment for the pharmaceutical personnel engaged.
5. There was no certificate of payment (Business Levy) and Fire Safety Certificate from the Lusaka City Council.
6. There was no appropriate signage to clearly identify the premises as a pharmaceutical wholesale business.
7. There were no air conditioners to provide artificial ventilation in the main storage area.
8. There were no rooms for quarantine, recalled and expired products.
9. Two additional wall thermometers were needed in the main storage area.
10. There was no refrigerator.
11. There were no temperature monitoring charts.
12. There was no dangerous drugs cupboard.
13. There were no shelves in the warehouse.
14. There were no receipts or issue books.
15. There were no systems of monitoring expiry dates checked on products.
16. There were no systems for monitoring of product deterioration carried out.
17. There was need to develop and implement standard operating procedures on sales/distribution, expired and recalled products.
18. There were no pedal waste bins in the warehouse.
19. There was need to clean the toilet and handbasin.
20. The were no statutory reference materials available.”

Dr Munkombwe advised Honeybee Pharmacy to address the deficiencies observed before applying for re-inspection of the premises.

“We wish to advise you to address the above deficiencies and notify the Authority accordingly, so that re-inspection of your premises may be conducted. Please note that the re-inspection will be conducted after payment of re-inspection fee of K3,460,” stated Dr Munkombwe.

But According to the register of pharmaceutical wholesale establishments in Zambia obtained from ZAMRA, Honeybee Pharmacy was issued wholesale licence number PL/5-00091/19 on August 28, 2019, the same date when ZAMRA wrote to the entity indicating that it had failed inspection.

Further records showed that Honeybee paid for wholesale re-inspection and registration on August 29, a day after ZAMRA had already issued the pharmaceutical wholesale licence.

Meanwhile, according to information given to ZAMRA by Honeybee Pharmacy, the person who was interviewed during inspection in the capacity of director of the company is a Mr Zakir Motala Hussein.

The names of the company directors are: Abdurrauf Motala, a teacher of Plot 107, Umodzi Highway, Chipata, Eastern Province and a Mr Randenlyage Ojitha Janeelaga Perera, a businessman of plot 420 Obote Road, Kamwala Lusaka.

According to records at PACRA, the shareholders of Honeybee Pharmacy Limited, a company that was registered about five months after the tender was awarded, are the same people who applied for the ZAMRA licence on behalf of Imran Lunat’s sole trading company which won the US$17 million tender, namely, Zakir Hussein Motala and Abdurrauf Abdurrahim Motala. Imran Lunat, whom the Attorney General says is responsible for any liabilities that may arise, was engaged as a covering pharmacist on a part time basis.

When contacted last months to explain how he won the US$17 million contract when his company was not registered with PACRA at the time, Lunat said he was no longer a director for the company that won the contract, adding that 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.

Records at the Ministry of Health show that a solicitation document for the Health Centre Kits supply 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 and Ministry of Health was signed on November 22, 2019.