MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Professor Luckson Kasonka says the suspension of the ministry’s procurement unit has caused some challenges because certain things cannot be procured urgently.

On Friday, December 3, 2021, the entire Ministry of Health Procurement Department was closed and put on suspension pending investigations by a joint task force.

In an interview, Wednesday, Prof Kasonka said he could not tell when investigations would be concluded.

“Investigations by whoever is investigating take their time. We have no role in telling them what to do and when to conclude the investigations. So the procurement unit is still not here and the status quo remains. Your next question would be when are they going to conclude the investigations? I do not know because I do not work with them and they are not part of us. I am not even supervising those investigative wings and even their investigative progressions are not even coming to me. It is a national investigation and not a Ministry of Health investigation,” he said.

“Of course it means that procurement for certain things we would like to procure urgently cannot happen. You know the importance of the procurement unit in any organisation including News Diggers! So challenges are there but like I said we have alternatives which are not the best but they are alternatives. Alternatives are not the same as the original plan. So there are challenges with procurement. For example, up to now, I do not have my business card because the procurement unit is supposed to provide all that.”

Prof Kasonka said he was using his money to buy certain supplies in the absence of the procurement unit.

“People come and cannot be given business cards because the procurement unit that should have made payments for my business cards is not there. I do not have drinks in my office. I have to send my driver using my own money to go and buy my water and tea for my visitors because all those are procured through the procurement unit. So you can see such challenges. So I am using my driver and using my own money to go to the supermarket and bring my water to drink and tea for my visitors. Anything short of that will be contrary to the procurement requirements,” he said.

And when asked whether the suspension of the procurement department would affect the urgent procurement and supply of drugs, Prof Kasonka answered in the affirmative.

“Definitely, do I have to say no? It has affected because this has provided challenges. We cannot procure a lot of things. If you come into my office, a lot of things are not there because we cannot procure without the procurement unit, otherwise we alert government requirements for procurement,” said Prof Kasonka.