Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has ordered Ministry of Agriculture not to offer a contract worth about K1.2 billion to a South African firm, pending investigations on how it was awarded.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, in a restriction notice dated October 5 2020 and addressed to Principal Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Agriculture, informs the ministry that his bureau was investigating how the contract was awarded.
This follows a written complaint dated September 28 2020 to the ACB by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), informing the bureau that on September 22 2020, the ministry published a notification of award of the contract to a joint venture between Spatial Dimension South Africa (Pty) Limited at $1 575 000 (about K1.2 billion at the current exchange rate).
Matemba in an interview yesterday confirmed issuing the restriction notice to the ministry as the bureau was investigating the matter.
The ministry contracted the South African firm to design, supply, install and commission Land Information Management System under the Agricultural Commercialisation Project.
In the letter signed by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence and national coordinator Luke Tembo, the activists state they received allegations that Spatial Dimension does not have expertise in land information management but their expertise is in mining information systems.
ACB, in a notice also copied to Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, ordered the Ministry of Agriculture not to, without any written consent from the bureau, proceed to award or undertake any activity for the award of the contract to Spatial Dimensions or any joint venture thereof.
HRDC in their letter further alleged that some of the companies that failed in the bidding actually have the right expertise.
“It is further alleged that initially Spatial Dimension withdrew from the bidding because of the requirement that the successful bidder should hand over the source code to Malawi Government on commissioning.
“It is further alleged that a delegation made up of senior Ministry of Agriculture officials went to South African and met officials from Spatial Dimension.
“Allegedly, after this meeting, the Ministry of Agriculture made changes to bidding requirement. The new requirements were allegedly favouring only Spatial Dimension. We appeal to ACB to carry out investigations into this matter urgently,” HRDC, which entered into a whistle-blower initiative with ACB, appealed.
Trapence in an interview yesterday said his coalition was encouraged that the bureau was acting on complaints they have been filing through the whistle-blower initiative, adding progress was so far good.
Meanwhile, ACB has given HRDC an update of progress on complaints the human rights body has been filing.
ACB, according to the update we have seen, updated HRDC on a complaint that Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) flouted procurement procedures and regulations in the procurement of mobile laboratory fuel testing van in a contact it had with City Motors at a contact sum of K704 million.
The corruption busting body reports that investigations commenced and are progressing well and hinted they expect to conclude them by end of October 2020.
ACB updated HRDC that in the case of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), where a suspicion was raised that it awarded a contract to Shenzen Intermeter Co Ltd to supply meters and meter boxes under the support of influential political figures, investigations are also expected to be concluded by end of October 2020.
The bureau further updated HRDC that it expects to conclude investigation by end of November 2020 in an allegation that Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) in Area 3 was suspected to have corruptly transferred a housing estate to two businesspersons, Mustaq Chothia and Suleman Ismael Karim.
It was alleged the two have also been allocated land near Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout in Lilongwe and in Area 15 and Area 3.
Investigations against Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) are expected to be concluded by December 2020 according to the ACB update to HRDC.
The cases include suspicion that the regulatory body gave Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) an institution’s motor vehicle, Toyota Hilux, BS 962, bought a KIA Sportage, BU 5780, and gave it to former Cabinet minister Nicholas Dausi and another one, BU 2220, to Justin Saidi, the then secretary for Information, among other allegations.