Public pressure has forced the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to unveil actions being taken in debarring distrustful companies involved in the alleged abuse of K6.2 billion Covid 19 funds.
The authority said it has finalised the debarment proceedings against various suppliers and will publish their names.
PPDA has come in the open after the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), riled with the authority’s prolonged silence over its failure to debar the alleged companies as directed by President Lazarus Chakwera, demanded information on the issue under Section 37 of the Constitution as read with the Access to Information Act of 2017.
In its demand letter to PPDA, dated May 13 2021, HRDC, through Kawelo Lawyers, said it was surprised that since Chakwera directed the authority to blacklist all suspected companies on April 18 2021, there had been no action on the matter.
“Be advised that if the above information is not voluntarily submitted to our client, we have instructions to seek court redress to compel your organisation to furnish our client with the sought-for information. This letter may be produced before a court of law to claim costs in the event that PPDA chooses not to cooperate,” reads the letter signed by Kawelo Lawyers managing partner Wesley Mwafulirwa.
But responding to the letter, PPDA acting director general Irene Mlewa said immediately after the presidential directive the authority took various steps, including obtaining an audit report issued by the National Audit Office.
“The authority analysed the report and gave due notice to the suppliers and individuals inviting them to a disciplinary hearing as required under regulation 193(2) of the Public Procurement Regulations 2020,” reads the PPDA letter.
The disciplinary hearings for the suppliers and individuals, according to the letter, were held last Tuesday and Wednesday by two independent ad hoc Review Committees constituted under Section 60 (3) and (4) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act 2017.
“In the meantime, however, to preserve the integrity of the process and in compliance with the law, it would be inappropriate and prejudicial to publish the names of the suspected suppliers,” reads the letter.
However, reacting to the letter yesterday, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence blamed PPDA of playing delaying tactics by summoning the suspected companies and individuals to a disciplinary hearing on a “straight forward issue”.
“The audit report was very clear on the companies that flouted procurement procedures. PPDA should not only blacklist those companies but also any other company and their owners who had also been blacklisted elsewhere because we have companies blacklisted by institutions like the World Bank and yet they get contracts in Malawi,” he said.