THEY defended the US$17 million medical supply tender with all their might. When irregularities surrounding the award of the contract were brought to the fore, the entire Ministry of Health sided with the private company and condemned tax payers who warned about this procurement.

We warned about everything that is happening in relation to this drug supply tender. We revealed that HoneyBee Pharmacy Limited was not a registered company at PACRA. The company that was awarded the tender was registered four months later. We warned that government was taking a huge risk giving a US $17 million contract to a sole trader, a simple pharmacist in the name of Imram Lunat. We questioned the capacity of this individual to supply 22,500 Health Centre Kits. We raised the alarm and told the whole Republic that HoneyBee had failed ZAMRA inspection and the wholesale license was awarded illegally. But no one cared.

Those in government were in the forefront of defending the illegality. They claimed that the tender procedure was flawlessly followed and that if there were any problems with the name of the company that was awarded the contract, it was just a typographical error!

Today, shame is written all over their faces. The Minister of Health, his Permanent Secretary and the procurement committee cannot walk with their heads high because of the HoneyBee scandal. The company they vouched for has delivered toxic drugs and now they wish the ground could swallow them during this embarrassing episode. They have nothing sensible to say.

“We cannot get a product that we cannot use. That means that the supplier will have to replace the drugs. We cannot receive drugs that are not fit for our people to use. Our officers are really trained in what we call pharmacovigilance, who are always alert and ensure that the drugs that we give to our people are safe.”

Nonsense! What vigilance can the Ministry of Health talk about? Where was that vigilance when HoneyBee was robbing Zambian taxpayers in broad-daylight through this drug procurement tender? Where were they when HoneyBee was submitting falsified documents to the procurement committee to win this tender? What due diligence was done to ascertain the capacity of HoneyBee Pharmacy to deliver the 22,500 Health Centre Kits?

Of all the companies that are duly registered and experienced with a clean track record for manufacturing and delivering drugs to the Zambian government, why did they solicit for this particular bogus entity to get the tender? Zambians must be reminded that this tender was not open, bidders were handpicked and asked to apply. Who, at the Ministry of Health, went to pick on this sole trader, leaving reputable suppliers? This is what we call collusion to commit a crime. The definition of corruption does not get better than this stinking deal!

What is painful is that the people behind this dirty deal even have the audacity to lie instead of showing remorse for subjecting the lives of innocent citizens to such danger with toxic drugs. HoneyBee is even confidently telling the government that: “we are also concerned with the colour of the drugs, maybe they were exposed to water.” Huh! What a banana republic we are! US $17 million worth of drugs were exposed to water? When? Where? How? Were the drugs transported by canoe from India? Even our Lozi brothers manage to move their king from Lealui to Limulunga on the Nalikwanda without a splash of water on his garment. So, what is HoneyBee talking about? How did the previous suppliers manage to deliver drug consignments with the right specifications without excuses?

It is also annoying to hear ZAMRA pretend to be innocent from this scandal and begin to demand that HoneyBee must recall the substandard drugs from circulation. Shame on you, ba ZAMRA! You are the ones who issued the wholesale license, knowing too well that HoneyBee had failed your inspection. You were fully aware that you were issuing a license illegally to a company that had no capacity to supply drugs. What motivated you to do that? In whose interest were you acting? Why are you pretending to be surprised? Insoni ebuntu.

Naimwe ba ZPPA, shame on you too. This criminality happened under your watch. We have written press queries demanding your explanation and position on this matter, you are failing to respond, why? You don’t even have anything to say because you know that you watched a crime develop at the Ministry of Health and you failed to stop it. This is why Zambians have very little confidence in regulatory authorities in this country because they are headed by cowards who can’t stand on principle to fight bad governance.

Posterity will judge you harshly!