If Attorney General knew about this, he aided criminality

ATTORNEY General Likando Kalaluka State Counsel has told this country that the controversial US$17 million Ministry of Health supply tender for Health Centre Kits was awarded to an individual called Imran Lunat, and not Honeybee Pharmacy Limited. When people queried how he could approve such a transaction given the high liability risks that could arise from dealing with a non-registered entity, the principal legal advisor to the government said: “In case of liability, government would pursue the sole trader and not the limited liability company because the contract is with the sole trader – Imran Lunat”.

Today, we would like to share with the people of Zambia revelations about how this individual obtained the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority licence to win this tender, and the names of the directors of the company that applied for the ZAMRA pharmaceutical licence. Our readers must remember that the Ministry of Health recently distanced Imran Lunat (whom they say they awarded the contract) from the directors who registered Honeybee Pharmacy Limited at PACRA, five months after the contract was already awarded.

Now, we challenge the Ministry of Health and the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority to dispute any of the facts that we have gathered about how Honeybee Pharmacy obtained its licence. Note that without this licence or failure to meet the conditions for this particular ZAMRA licence, no company or individual can be awarded a medical supply tender by the Ministry of Health. So this was the beginning of the US$17 million scandal.

An application for grant of Pharmaceutical Licence of wholesale was received from Honeybee Pharmacy on August 27, 2019 and ZAMRA sent inspectors to the operating premises in Chaisa township the same day. The person who was interviewed in the capacity of director of the company is Mr Zakir Motala Hussein. According to Information given to ZAMRA by Honeybee Pharmacy, the names of the company directors are: Mr Abdurrauf Motala, a teacher of Plot 107, Umodzi Highway, Chipata, Eastern Province and Mr Randenlyage Ojitha Janeelaga Perera, a businessman of plot 420 Obote Road, Kamwala Lusaka.

Now, let’s look back at the names of the company that the Attorney General and the Ministry of Health say government had no dealings with when awarding this contract. Who are the directors of the Honeybee Pharmacy Limited that was registered months after the contract was already awarded? According to records at PACRA, the shareholders are the same people who applied for the ZAMRA licence on behalf of Imran Lunat’s sole trading company which is not registered, namely Zakir Hussein Motala and Abdurrauf Abdurrahim Motala.

Was the Ministry saying the truth when they said they erroneously added the word “limited” to the company that was awarded the tender? If they had no dealings with the limited company, why is it that the Ministry of Health Procurement Committee accepted a ZAMRA licence that was issued to a company that was owned by someone else and not Imran Lunat?

Honeybee Pharmacy applied for a ZAMRA wholesale licence on August 27, 2019, the inspection was done the same day and the following day, the licence was issued. Is this the time that ZAMRA takes to issue licences to applicants? Why was the Honeybee’s application treated as an emergency? Why was the ZAMRA Licence issued on August 28, 2019 indicating that the “suitably” qualified personnel was Mr Imran Lunat, when the inspectors were not shown any documents showing that this individual was a qualified and registered pharmacist?

According to the ZAMRA inspection report, Mr Imran Lunat was engaged as a covering pharmacist on a part time basis. His Health Professionals Council of Zambia (HPCZ) full registration certificate and annual practicing certificate were not displayed anywhere on the premises, and he was not even present at the time of inspection. The Company has no full time pharmacy technologists. The only employees found on the premises were a cleaner, a driver and two general workers.

In the case of Liability, how will the Attorney General pursue the individual whom he recommended for the award of US$17 million when the ZAMRA Licensing records show that this person called Imran Lunat is just a part time covering pharmacist with no power of attorney or substantive responsibilities over the company that was awarded the contract? Was State Counsel Likando Kalaluka acting in the interest of good governance when he gave a “no objection” to this tender?

The records we have obtained from ZAMRA show that the inspectors made the following recommendations: “Grant of Pharmaceutical Licence to Honeybee Pharmacy is NOT recommended”. Why was the company awarded a licence when it failed inspection? This recommendation was made on August 27, 2019, and Honeybee Pharmacy paid for registration and re-inspection of its premises on August 29, 2019, but the licence was already issued on August 28, 2019. How did this happen? On the same day that the licence was issued, ZAMRA wrote to Honeybee Pharmacy informing them that they had failed the inspection. So, why did they go ahead to issue the licence? When was the second inspection done since the licence had already been issued?

We now ask: in whose interest was the Ministry of Health procurement committee acting on this tender? Under whose instructions was the Attorney General acting when he gave a “no objection” to the award of this contract? Was this medical supply tender awarded as required by law under the Medicines and Allied Substances Act No.3 of 2013? Is this not clear collusion by public servants to flout the procurement rules?

We want to end by asking the Attorney General (since he says there is nothing unusual in this tender) to tell the people of Zambia, how many such government contracts his office has approved and awarded to individuals with similar irregularities? Since he says this is normal practice under his reign, the taxpayers, whose money is used to procure these supplies, deserve to know if he still stands by his position that this bid from Honeybee Pharmacy met all the public procurement provisions.

In a normal country, a lot of people would have been fired and arrested for their roles in this dirty deal. We await responses from the Attorney General’s Chambers, ZAMRA, Ministry of Health and ZPPA. In the meantime, we now need to follow the money. Is it true that government has not paid anything to the companies that won this tender? We believe this is also false information, we are digging…