The other day I questioned the job of the Office of the Director of Public Procurements (ODPP). That time it was about ODPP’s involvement in alleged dubious payments that the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) was pressuring one of its senior finance managers Bettie Mahuka to authorise payment.
Long short, the good lady saw some very dirty work and opted to resign from her position rather than betray her conscience.
Back to the malfeasance in the ODPP. It stinks. Every politician who wants to fleece Escom (and many other public organisations) hides behind the authority of this office to the point it has become one of the most abused institutions in the country. The ODPP issues No Objection authorisations for procurements that ought to be competed for. A No Objection letter is an authorisation that the ODPP grants to a request from an MDA to use a single source method.
The only right qualification one needs to get a No Objection from this organisation is the right political connection. My understanding is that ODPP is supposed to conduct a due diligence before issuing such authorisation. But the problem is that senior ODPP officials are appointed by their political masters. They have their jobs to protect. As a result, the only ‘due diligence’ they do is to prove to Escom managers that those seeking authorisation for single sourcing are politically connected.
So as long as you get a No Objection from the ODPP your hands are clean even if the contract you are given is supposed to be competitive. There is so much rot at this institution. And by the way, the ODPP is one of the most secretive institutions in the country because it has so much to rot hide. Unfortunately President Peter Mutharika already wrote an obituary for the Public Sector Reform Programme (PSRP) which ought to have changed this sad state of affairs when he abolished it two weeks ago.
There is no suspicious procurement where ODPP comes out clean. It is no wonder ODPP is at the centre of the suspicious maize deal involving the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc). The Admarc boss Foster Mulumbe makes a call from Zambia to the ODPP director who is on his way to his home village and without any due diligence, the ODPP boss just directs an officer to issue a No Objection. Just by phone like that! I am sorry to say the ODPP long lost its relevance in fighting corruption in the country. It should be closed. It is a waste of government resources.
I digressed. Everyday there is something coming out which shows how suspicious the Zambia-Admarc maize deal was done. If Mulumbe’s were clean, he had no business gagging the press on the issue by getting an injunction to stop Times Group from publishing anything about the matter.
The issue about the Zambia maize is not that only 112 tonnes have been delivered to Malawi or that the PTA Bank has not paid a dollar to the suppliers. What is important is the paperwork that was done and dusted in a suspicious manner and at the speed of lightning.
And, of course, why Admarc is selling the maize at an exorbitant price of K12 500 per bag of 50 kg far much above what the ordinary Malawian can afford?
As I am writing this I am reading a document from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) dated January 10 2017, addressed to Mulumbe captioned Acceptance of Discrepancies Under Letter of Credit Number SLC 047/016/RBM advising him what to do.
I am sure by the time this article comes out the letter will already be in the public domain. n