MoH under fire over vehicle sales

Youth and Society (YAS) has given Ministry of Health (MoH) Principal Secretary Dan Namarika seven days to explain why he and other officials disregarded the public procurement law and bought vehicles the ministry disposed of.

YAS argues that Namarika and 11 other officials acted against the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act of 2017, which prohibits employees of a disposing public entity from participating in the auction.

Admitted buying the cars: Namarika

Section 35 of the Act states: “A procuring and disposing entity shall not enter into a procurement or disposal contract with its employee, or any close relative of any employee.”

While Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe had earlier stated that the PS erred on the matter, Namarika insisted on being innocent.

The PS bought two vehicles—a 15-tonner Iveco lorry registration MG870 AC and a Toyota Hilux D4D registration 031MG 1836,  while a director within the ministry is alleged to have bought a Toyota TX registration MG 240 E.

The YAS letter dated January 16 2019 also shows that other beneficiaries ranged from top government officials, a district health officer and a driver.

In respect of the sale, YAS is demanding that Namarika supplies it with copies of all relevant documentation, including any notice of a public auction, or tendering in sealed bids, summary of bids received if any, and/or records of the disposal process which ought to be kept in terms of Section 32(1) of the Act.

Signed by executive director Charles Kajoloweka and addressed to Namarika, YAS also demands an explanation on how the PS ensured that the disposals complied with the duty to avoid conflict of interests and appearance of impropriety in terms of Section  57(1)(c) of the Act and the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau have any intention to investigate the issue.

The Attorney General is also requested to indicate if he intends to institute any civil proceedings against the beneficiaries to annul disposals and recover the motor vehicles or proceeds of their further disposal.

Kajoloweka has warned that YAS will take measures to secure the public interest if no satisfactory response is given.

PPDA spokesperson Grace Thipa had not responded to our questionnaire by press time, but said the responses would be provided today.

Yesterday, Namarika did not take our calls, but YAS officials said they had already sent him the letter.

While admitting to have bought the cars in question, Namarika insisted in an earlier interview with our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday that he had not done anything wrong, arguing the issue was being blown out of proportion as the cars were worn out and they would cost him more money to run properly.

But the Finance minister said employees of a disposing public entity are not expected to benefit from such disposal based on the PPDA Act which is currently in force.

According to the Public Finance Management framework, disposal of assets is approved by the Chief Secretary, Secretary to Treasury, Accountant General or a controlling officer of the disposing entity depending on the nature and value of assets.

After the approval, valuation for vehicles is normally done by PVHES. n

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