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Escom, Macra, Mera top Anti-Corruption Bureau list

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Reyneck Matemba

Cases involving the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera), Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) have been among those on top of a list for investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) since June this year.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) initiated a ‘whistle blowing campaign, where Malawians were asked to report cases of abuses involving individuals and groups in government and public companies.

ACB has reported back to HRDC that it has started investigating seven of the cases and Mera tops the list with two cases, Escom has one case, Macra also has one case with multiple angles while Admarc and some individuals also have cases to answer.

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According to correspondence between ACB Director Reyneck Matemba and HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence which The Daily Times has seen, investigations into most of these complaints are expected to be completed by end November.

In a breakdown of the complaints, the latter indicates that investigations into reports that Mera flouted procurement procedures in the procurement of mobile laboratory fuel testing van at a contract sum of K704,000,000.00 are excepted to be done by end October.

“We also served a restriction notice on Mera not to dispose of the fuel testing van until the conclusion of the investigations,” reads the correspondence in part.

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ACB also says investigations into reports that Shenzen Intermeter Co. Ltd had support of some political figures to get a deal to supply metres and meter boxes to Escom will be completed by end October.

The complainant alleges that firstly, in September 2016, Escom advertised for a restricted tendering of 185,000 meters.

Escom IPC [Internal Procurement Committee] recommended the award of the contract to Shenzen at a contract sum of $15,876,470.00 but the recommendation was not supported by PPDA [Public Procurement and Disposal of Authority].

In the course of the whistle blower initiative, HRDC also reported to the ACB suspected corrupt practices by Mera in awarding of contract to MAS International to supply fuel level sensors for fuel tanker trucks and depot fuel storage tanks in 2018.

According to the coalition, PPDA on two occasions wrote Mera saying it was withholding a “no objection” arguing among others that MAS was not the lowest bidder, MAS had no proven track record of involvement in similar services as Mera had claimed.

The ACB says investigations on the claims are progressing well and are expected to be completed by end November.

The bureau also said is investigating multiple allegations of corrupt practices at Macra including reports that the authority gave its institution’s motor vehicle, Toyota Hilux (BS 962) to the DPP.

The correspondence also says the bureau is investigating reports that Macra bought a KIA Sportage (BU5780) and gave it to former cabinet minister Nicholas Dausi, another one (BU 2220) to Justin Saidi then Secretary for Information and refurbished the office of Chief Secretary at a cost of K64 million.

“The cases relating to the award of contracts to Car Track Limited and Kalikalion Agency were already under investigations by the ACB, on possible charges of abuse of office and conflict of interest on the part of Mr. Godfrey Itaye.

“Equally, the case relating to the KIA Sportage (BU5780) that was given to Hon. Nicholas Dausi was already under investigations by the ACB, on possible charges of abuse of office on the part of Mr. Itaye and Hon. Dausi,” indicates the latter.

Again the ACB said it issued a restriction notice against the Commissioner for Lands and DPP Regional Governor, Charles Mchacha, from dealing with public land Plot Number LW1366 in Limbe, Blantyre which Mchacha allegedly acquired without following proper procedures.

In an interview yesterday, Matemba confirmed to have written the HRDC on the matter but could not divulge details of the communication.

He said if the bureau finds credible evidence of wrongdoing, it will prosecute the people involved.

“I cannot discuss the merits and demerits of the cases in the media. It is illegal and unethical. I have written HRDC informing them where we are generally and our expected time frames of the investigations,” Matemba said.

In a separate interview, Trapence hailed the ACB for updating them on progress of the complaints saying this will enhance public trust in the bureau.

“By updating us, the bureau is also updating the general public which is giving us the information. We hope that the issue will not end with investigations,” he said.

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