CSOs petition Parliament to summon ACB Director to clarify on case involving dubious procurement of ambulances

By Duncan Mlanjira

Civil society Organisations (CSO) have sent a petition to Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara to summon the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director Reyneck Matemba to clarify on certain matters of national importance that are related to corruption that include the dubious procurement of ambulances by Ministry of Health.

The petition — copied to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament; Leader of Government, Richard Chimwendo Banda and Opposition Leader, Kondwani Nankhumwa — brings to the Speaker’s attention that on the 10th September, 2020, the Nation newspaper carried an advert under the title “Notification of Intention to Aware a Contract’.

“The notice indicates that the Ministry of Health intends to award a contract to supply and deliver 35 ambulances (Lot.1) to a successful bidder by the name Grandview International Limited, whose address is Reliance House, Plot No. 35374, Thabo Mbeki Road, Lusaka, Zambia.

Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara

“As civil society leaders, we are equally aware that Malawi has potential companies and individuals who can afford to deliver on the same and, therefore, any attempt to award this contract to a foreign national is denying Malawians an opportunity to economically succeed.

“While we commend the ACB on the steps taken on the same as evident by the notice to the Secretary for Health to produce or furnish the documents to ACB, dated 11th September, 2020, we would like to call upon Parliament to allow the ACB Director to appear before the Legal Affairs Committee and assure Malawians that this contract is cancelled entirely and such decision be made available to the Public and those involved must face the long arm of the Law.”

Matemba, ACB Director General

The first CSO to whistleblow on the procurement of the said ambulances was Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), which petitioned the ACB last week, saying Grandview International is a subject of investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission in Zambia in their supply of 42 Fire Trucks at $1 million each that was investigated way back in 2017 by the Anti-Corruption Commission in Zambia.

HRDC had contended Malawian companies were even cheaper and listed the companies that bid to supply the ambulances as:

1. Toyota Malawi Toyota Land Cruiser $47,800.00

2. Nissan Malawi Nissan Patrol $56,241.61

3. Mike Appeal & Gatto Land Cruiser $61,384.00

4. Grandview International Land Cruiser $63, 000.00

5. Med Point Dazzie Land Cruiser $64,750.00

6. Paramount Holdings Land Cruiser $65,000.00

7. ARK Agencies Land Cruiser $72,000.00

8. Skywaves Land Cruiser $77,007.36

9. Good Hope Land Cruiser $112,281.88

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From the list above, Grandview was on number 4 and over $25,000 higher than Toyota Malawi, which — apart from being cheaper, offered 2 years of free service of the vehicles.

HRDC also indicated that Grandview International was also controversial in their home country, Zambia in which opposition leader Chishimba Kambwili is alleged to have referred to the company as the Guptas of Zambia due to their alleged closeness to the Zambian Presidency. 

In the petition to the Speaker of Parliament, the CSO leaders also want Matemba to clarify the ACB’s position of Chunara’s case in the cement corruption saga.

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“Every Malawian is eager to know what has transpired on this person from the time he was arrested, appeared in Court and given bail,” say the CSOs.

“As Malawians we have not been told as to how far this matter has gone. We are afraid the Tonse government may also engage the same person in some dubious contractual agreements which may compromise the work of the ACB in their fight against corruption.”

“This petition is in line with citizens ambitions to operate in an enabling environment in order to contribute efficiently to national building and that it is unfair for the citizens to have no voice on matters that are directly upsetting and denying them a right to decent life and development.

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“We are hereby calling on Parliament to take these concerns with seriousness and that efforts are made to summon the Anti-Corruption Bureau Director within the next 7 days so that Malawians are fully informed on steps by ACB as requested by the Civil Society Leaders.

“That the leadership of the Anti- Corruption Bureau will honor this call knowing as a governance institution, it strives to serve the aspirations of Malawians through creation of an environment that is free from corruption,” says the petition’s call of action, signed by Billy Banda, Unandi Banda, Luther Mambala and Philip Kamangirah.

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