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HRDC takes K704m contract to ACB

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The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has reported to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) a suspected case of fraud in the contract agreement for the procurement of new mobile laboratory fuel testing van delivered at Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).

The contract worth K704 million was between Mera and City Motors Limited in 2018 and the van was delivered in April this year.

HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence in a letter sent to ACB dated July 12 2020 said the information came through a whistle-blower initiative and revealed suspected flaws in the implementation of the procurement contract.

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“On 7th May 2019, Mera paid City Motors K563,200,000 which translates into 80 percent as advance payment. Our reading of the procurement laws, especially the Procurement Regulations, shows that it is illegal to make advance payment in purchase of goods procured locally.

“Almost a year later, on 17th April 2020, Mera paid K140,800,000 to City Motors translating to 20 percent of the contract sum,” reads the letter.

According Trapence, the laboratory van was delivered to Mera in April, 2020, a year after the contract was agreed and delivery was also made after 80 percent advance payment.

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HRDC also questions Mera officials’ trip to South Africa to inspect the van raising several questions including why the authority dealt will City Motors when it would have procured directly from the foreign dealer apparently at cheaper cost.

ACB Director-General Reyneck Matemba confirmed yesterday that the graft-busting institution had received the tip-off from HRDC and that the matter would be looked into.

In an emailed response to Trapence, Matemba said ACB will be providing periodic updates on the progress of their investigations regarding the procurement.

HRDC further alleges that the van in question did not come with the equipment as stipulated in the contract.

Mera Chief Executive Officer Collins Magalasi said yesterday that he would not comment much on the matter apart from saying the institution will allow ACB to make proper investigations.

“We are ready to cooperate. I am aware of the procurement contract and what the laws say about payments. But because it is just speculation, allow me not to put merit on it; we are a public institution and everybody is free to find information about our work. I am always very open,” Magalasi said.

HRDC early this month embarked on an initiative aimed at exposing corrupt activities in public institution’s by calling for whistle blowers to submit relevant information to the rights body which it would later take to relevant authorities such as ACB.

Matemba told yesterday’s edition of The Daily Times that the bureau will pounce on everyone who engaged or engages in corrupt practices and that ACB is treating information that is being presented in various forms including being posted on social media as tip-offs to be followed up where necessary.

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