The High Court of Malawi has ordered the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to re-tender the K1.8 billion ATS equipment and ICT hardware for flexicube procurement contract.
The contract involved the supply and delivery of automated transfer systems (ATS) and information and communications technology (ICT) hardware for flexicube upgrade.
The ruling delivered on Monday in Lilongwe followed an earlier determination by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Review Committee that RBM erred to award a contract to Mitra Systems, a company that had two years’ experience when the bidding document specifically required a period of five years.
Sparc Systems Limited, an information and communications technology firm, challenged the award of the contract on the basis that Mitra Systems did not qualify.
In his 50-page ruling, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda further ordered the RBM to engage independent evaluators in the contracts.
He said: “The re-tender(s) in respect of both contracts must be published at reduced period of 21 days and bidding for the contracts to be re-tendered will only be open to the qualifying bidders which participated in the previous procurement proceedings.
“Each party to the administrative review proceedings that took place before the defendant [PPDA] will bear its own costs and there will be no refunds for the cancelled procurement process to any of the bidders.”
The judge further ordered that future tender submissions should include an electronic copy (compact disk) from the bidders to avoid suspicion of tempering with bids.
Nyirenda also ordered the RBM to pay costs to the successful party.
In his reaction yesterday, Sparc Systems Limited lawyer Khumbo Soko said he was delighted that justice has been served.
He said: “We think the correct result in this case has never been in doubt. Something went wrong and we are glad it is going to be remedied.”
On his part, Human Rights Defenders Coalition deputy chairperson Gift Trapence, whose organisation raised an alarm on the contract, said they are vindicated by the ruling.
In May 2020, RBM invited bids for the supply and delivery of ICT hardware for flexcube upgrade and ICT hardware for automated transfer system and on November 16 2020, it published an intention to award contracts on both bids to Mitra Systems, a decision that was challenged by Sparc Systems Limited.