Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has come under fire from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for regularising a fraudulent supply of sleeveless jackets worth K174 million in the 2013/14 financial year.
MEC acting chief elections officer Harris Potani on Tuesday told PAC at Parliament Building in Lilongwe that in the 2013/2014 financial year, some fraudsters came up with a fake local purchase order (LPO) and issued it to a company which later brought 76 000 jackets to deliver to MEC .
He said MEC had not planned for the jackets, but later resolved to buy the materials after consultation, something that angered PAC.
Potani said: “The issue started in the 2013/2014 financial year. Some tricksters forged MEC LPO and started procurement of the sleeveless jackets.
“The fraud was discovered when the company that ordered the goods wanted to deliver them. The company was informed that MEC did not order the sleeveless jackets.”
He said a decision had to be made as the jackets had the MEC logo, adding that there were security concerns if they went into the wrong hands.
Potani said the commission decided to buy the jackets though there was no budget for the items.
He revealed that there were also negotiations on the value and repayment time.
The items were valued at K376 million, but the commission negotiated with the supplier to buy them at K174 million and to pay the money in the 2018/2019 financial year since MEC had not budgeted for the items.
According to MEC, they then directed management to formalise procurement processes and they wrote the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) to seek a no-objection and the process was approved.
The items were delivered and MEC used the jackets in the 2019 elections.
PAC vice-chairperson Ned Poya described the procurement as a non-starter, asking MEC to furnish the committee with more documents on the processes that took place.
“There was no tender floated. Procurement process is a big process which starts from needs identification. Thereafter you float tenders, thereafter suppliers respond to tenders,” said Poya.
He said MEC has less than 30 days to furnish the committee with the documentation on the supply of the jackets.