Four groups under the banner of United Against Serious and Organised Crimes have queried the award of K9.7 billion contracts in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) mostly to one contractor through restricted tendering.
The consortium, which comprises Malawi Law Society (MLS), Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Church and Society Programme of the Livingstonia Synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), has since asked for an immediate meeting with Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose.
In the K9.7 billion contracts, MPS awarded five of the seven contracts worth K8 billion to Genex Export, a development the consortium feels smells fishy and needs an explanation from police leadership.
Information published on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDPAA) website (www.odpp.mw) shows that five of seven contracts were offered to Genex Export on January 22 2018 through restricted tendering.
The contracts in question are procurement of police cloth valued at K4 313 062 500, public order equipment valued at K1.2 billion, flags and uniform accessories worth K863 377 500, caps, hats and berets pegged at K672 600 000 and industrial machines valued at K109 091 250.
The other two contracts, also offered on the same restricted tendering arrangement, involved procurement of Police shoes valued at K2 433 750 000 awarded to Alps International and purchase of tents worth K138 210 000 awarded to Mas International.
In a document analysing the contracts, the consortium said it is “disturbed” to learn that the offers were by restricted tendering and awarded on the same day.
The consortium, among others, questions how the contractors were identified. It also asks whether the companies qualify to be awarded restricted tenders as required by law and whether the items were budgeted for.
Reads the analysis in part: “What documentation was given to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority [PPDPAA] in order for them to sanction restricted tendering? Was this restricted tendering by way of requesting quotations from several qualified suppliers or this was by way of single sourcing?
“Could some of the items in the tenders be listed as defence-related in order to qualify for restricted tendering? [The description in the tender award does not give sufficient detail of some procured material e.g. police cloth]. What was the unit cost per item?”
In a demand letter endorsed by Church and Society executive director Moses Mkandawire, MLS president Burton Mhango, CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka, the consortium says the manner the contracts were awarded raises “serious concerns”.
Reads the letter: “Specifically, we have concerns about seven contracts awarded on 22nd January 2018 which total more than K9.7 billion of public funds.
“These contracts were offered through restricted tenders and, therefore, information is limited. As such, we would request an audience with your office and responsible members of the procurement group.
“We seek to work with you in this matter for reassurance and if necessary, action to ensure that public funds are being put to the best possible use to achieve a safe, peaceful and prosperous Malawi.”
In an interview, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera feigned ignorance on the demand letter from the consortium, saying he was not aware of it.
Section 37(1) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (2016) provides that public procurement shall be realised by means of open methods of tender proceedings, but is, however, subject to the exceptions.
Reads the provisions in part: “. Subject to the approval of the director general, the application of sub-section  may be waived in the case of national defence or national security related procurement to the extent that such procurement is determined to be of a sensitive nature, in accordance with regulations.”
Under Section 37(3), the Act states that restricted tender may be used in the following case: “[a]. When the goods, works or services are only available from a limited number of suppliers, all of whom are known to. The procuring and disposing entity;
“And [b] the time and cost of considering a large number of bids is disproportionate to the value of the procurement.”
The minimum bidding period for restricted tender, according to the Act is 21 days.
The consortium’s query comes against a background of MPS being embroiled in a multi-billion kwacha food rations deal exposed through a leaked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation report which indicated that the contractor, Pioneer Investments, overcharged the police by K466 million.n