The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says government officials sometimes force it to fast-track vetting of public contracts, which compromises the screening process.
The bureau said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs to discuss the anti-graft body’s 2021 annual report.
ACB deputy director general Elia Bodole and director of corruption prevention Mary Phombeya were among those that represented the ACB.
Phombeya said the bureau is sometimes forced to vet the contracts within two days when its guidelines prescribe the process to be undertaken in five working days.
“Once a submission has been made to ACB, we start getting calls, tafulumizani chimenecho n’cha urgent [Do the vetting quickly, that is an urgent contract]. That is why we try as much as possible to do that within two days,” she said.
Bodole added: “In fact, the PPDA [Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority], ACB and the contracting unit in OPC [Office of the President and Cabinet] are accused of delaying projects, so we reduce the time.”
Section 37 of the PPDA Act mandates ACB to vet single source method of procurement or any high value procurement pursuant to the powers conferred on the bureau under Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices Act.
However, the ACB said despite that mandate, some contracts are not submitted to it for approval.
Rumphi North legislator Jappie Mhango, who is a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, proposed that ACB should have its own engineers to help verify some contracts.
In response, the bureau said plans are underway to recruit some engineers.
In his submission, another committee member, Dedza South legislator Ishmael Onani called for the enforcement of the laws that empower ACB to vet the contracts.
“The biggest fraud that is happening in government is procurement,” he said.