The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament yesterday sent back officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security for failing to explain exorbitant prices used to purchase uniforms rated of poor quality.
The committee said government lost about K5 billion in the procurement process during the financial year ending June 2013.
The ministry’s officials were summoned to answer some audit queries by the committee and when it came to the Immigration Department, the committee said the responses provided by the department’s Limbani Chawinga were unsatisfactory.
Committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said it was unfortunate that the Immigration Department deployed a junior officer who was not in a position of making decisions which led to the procurement of the uniforms; hence, the need for the controlling officer, the chief immigration officer, to come and answer.
He said: “We would have loved if the chief immigration officer was here to give answers to these. This is an issue of national concern and hence we are sending you back till next week Tuesday.”
During the meeting, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Sam Madula said he was in full agreement with the concerns raised in the audit query and asked the committee if it was right and proper for the chief immigration officer and the Inspector General of Police to provide responses.
It was learnt that the Immigration Department purchased uniforms in excess as on top of the staff uniform at K1.1 billion, there was another purchase of substandard uniforms at K24.5 million, and irregular increase of goods after delivery which from explanation was said to depreciate at K2 billion.
There is also purchase of 500 lockers at K1.4 billion whose contract was given to African Agency without a competing bidder and not passing through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.
The report also faults the department for issuing staff uniforms which were not signed for at an amount of K24 665 988.
In his response, Chawinga apologised to the committee, saying it was a procurement error. He said the problem would be avoided in future.
It was also noted that the excess uniform baggage was bought for 600 would be employees yet the department only recruited 315 which the members said was a total loss of money and unjustifiable for uniforms to be delivered when no recruitment was made and no sizes defined for those to wear them.
Mzimba North MP Agness Nyalonje said it was sad that Malawi has become very good on telling stories whenever standards have gone wrong and it affects taxpayers money who are languishing. n