The office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) has said it suspects Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) cheated on the emergency situation to force the office to release an emergency letter of no objection on the operations deal to procure maize from Zambia.
Director of Public Procurement, Paul Taulo also told the joint parliamentary committee on the deal inquiry that the Admarc’s signing of the deal with Kaloswe Courier Limited on June 17 2016 before receiving the letter of no objection on June 18 2016 was not procedural.
Taulo, who was in the company of his deputy, Edward Jeke, and assistant director, Arnold Chirwa, also insisted his office acted on a call from Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, contrary to what Mulumbe told the committee last week.
Mulumbe said he does not remember to have made a call to the ODPP.
Jeke said the evidence now shows that Admarc may not have said the truth when it presented the situation at the time they were requesting for no objection letter as a life-threatening emergency that deserved urgency.
He, however, said it is not the first time that they have been cheated as their past reviews show that some institutions really cheated them.
Chirwa said Admarc changed its request for the second letter of no objection in its contract with Zambia Corporative Federation after they had cancelled the contract with Kaloswe.
ODPP is said to have acted urgently and Chirwa who was doing the processes had to inform his seniors Taulo and Jeke through WhatsApp that the letter of no objection had been sent to Admarc.
Earlier in the day, Members of Parliament (MPs) in a joint committee of Agriculture and Public Accounts, questioned the depth and methodology of the study that Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) did on the deal.
Almost all MPs said Cama’s findings are out of a narrow scope which failed to look into other substantial issues in the deal including the real procurement processes that are the main source of controversy.
A three-member Cama team of Executive Director, John Kapito, Director of Legal Affairs, Yusuf Nthenda and Projects Officer, Maurice Mkawihe, however, defended the study findings, saying the fact that their study did not go into the procurement technicalities does not mean that it is narrow.
According to Cama officials, the main objectives of the study were to establish whether maize was procured from Zambia, whether the procured maize arrived in the country and whether the price of maize in Admarc markets is justified.
They say all these objectives came to establish the truth on the reports that some people may have pocketed money meant for maize purchase, thereby leaving Malawians to pay high prices in Admarc markets.
But the MPs had reservations on the findings and some of them described them as not true.
One member, Richard Chimwendo-Banda also questioned how Cama achieved its study objective on price justification without going much into procurement.
Chimwendo-Banda said the study finding that Admarc signed contracts with Kaloswe and Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) on the same day to supply Admarc with 100,000 metric tonnes each is not true.
“If you say you did not consider procurement in your study, how did you find justification for the price?” Chimwendo-Banda queried.
Several MPs referred Cama to some documents which Cama did not have in its study but Admarc provided to the lawmakers.
Chairpersotn for the committee, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, said they respect Cama’s efforts but the study leaves a lot to be desired in terms of how the information was sourced and documentation used.
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