HUMAN Rights activist Brebner Changala says Zambian Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) must learn something from the governance institutions of Malawi by building confidence in the minds of the people.

This came after the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau halted a contract for procurement of 35 Ambulances awarded to Grandview International Zambia Limited, the company which also supplied the controversial US $42 million worth fire tenders to Zambia.

On 10th September, the Ministry of Health in Malawi advertised in “The Nation” newspaper, a notification of intention to award a contract to Grandview International Limited of Zambia, a tender to supply 35 units of Ambulances at a total cost of US $2, 205, 000.

The same day, Human Rights Defenders Coalition executive director Gift Trapence wrote to his country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), challenging the awarding of a contract to Grandview and further requesting the Bureau to investigate the bidder.

“We have received information that we wish to share with you. HRDC has seen a notification of award of a contract to Grandview International of Lusaka, Zambia to supply 35 Toyota Land Cruiser Ambulances. We have received information that the bidders were as follows: (1) Toyota Malawi Toyota Land Cruiser $47,800.00; (2) Nissan Malawi Nissan Patrol $56,241.61; (3) Mike Appeal & Gatto Land Cruiser $61,384.00; (4) Grandview International Land Cruiser $63, 000.00; (5) Med Point Dazzie Land Cruiser $64,750.00; (6)Paramount Holdings Land Cruiser $65,000.00; (7) ARK Agencies Land Cruiser $72,000.00; (8) Skywaves Land Cruiser $77,007.36; and )9) Good Hope Land Cruiser $112,281.88. As can be seen on the list above, Grandview was on number 4 and over $25000 higher than Toyota Malawi. It is alleged that apart from being cheaper, Toyota Malawi also offered 2 years of free service of the vehicles,” Trapence stated in the letter to ACB.

“Grandview International is also controversial in their home country, Zambia. The opposition leader Chishimba Kambwili is alleged to have referred to the company as the Guptas of Zambia due to their alleged closeness to the Zambian Presidency. Grandview is a subject of investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission in Zambia in their supply of 42 Fire Trucks at $1 million each. Given that Malawian companies were even cheaper, we are surprised that this contract was awarded to a seemingly questionable Zambian company. We appeal to ACB to commence the investigations as soon as possible and that the anticorruption body will update the nation when the investigations have started.”

Following the complaints, Malawi’s ACB director Reyneck Matemba halted the procurement tender which was awarded to Grandview.

In a letter addressed to both that country’s Ministry of Health Secretary, and chairperson of the Internal procurement and Disposal of Assets Committee, Matemba ordered the duo not to proceed with awarding of the contract to Grandview.

“Take notice that you as the chairperson of the Internal procurement and Disposal of Assets Committee in the Ministry of Health shall not without any written consent, proceed to award or undertake any activity for the award of a contract to Grandview International Limited of Reliance House, Plot No. 35375, Thabo Mbeki Road, Lusaka, Zambia, for the supply and delivery of 35 Ambulances or any number of Ambulances under Lot No.1 at a sum of USD2, 202, 000 or any sum at all,” Matemba stated.

And in an interview, Changala said Zambian LEAs must emulate their colleagues in Malawi and restore public confidence in them.

“Thank you to the people of Malawi who are our neighbours for showing us and leading in many ways and guiding this littered nation called Zambia. The work of the new government which that nation put into power and the current resurrections of the corruption that has been exported from Zambia to Malawi, but most importantly, the action and reaction of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Malawi is very inspiring. My take is that the Zambian Government institutions like the DEC, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Public Protector must learn something from the people of Malawi. They must learn something from the governance institutions of Malawi by building confidence in the people’s minds and in the institutions. This is very important,” Changala said.

He said the fight against corruption in Zambia was nothing but a name.

“The actions that are coming out of Malawi are as it should be in a normal democratic and law observing country. Zambia falls short of that kind of administrative action to correct the anomalies, to correct the wrongs to fight corruption. We are far much behind in terms of accountability and institutional integrity. The Anti-Corruption in Zambia is nothing but a name. It is corrupt, it is abused and a corruption laundering institution in this country. It is ineffective and yet people are being paid huge salaries and allowances. The ACC is nothing but a vehicle for the corrupt in this country,” Changala said.

He said because of doing a lot of government procurement contracts under the carpet, the fight against corruption in Zambia was far from being realized.

“The problem with Zambia is that there is no transparency in our procurement systems. Things are done as people wish. So, you only come to learn about these things when they are delivering. In Malawi, people came to learn about the process before the items have been procured. This used to happen under Levy Mwanawasa and under Rupiah Banda. It only stopped when the PF came to power. When Rupiah Banda and Levy Mwanawasa were in power, all the winners of government tenders were published in our daily papers,” said Changala.” But what we are dealing with is a bunch of criminals. They do not advertise as to who has won what. There are a lot of activities happening in this country but we don’t know whether these tenders were advertised. And this is why we are experiencing a lot of money laundering in the FIC report. It is because a lot of things are being swept under the carpet and we need to stop that. There is a lot of criminality in the use of public funds because the executive and their proxies want to benefit from any tender.”