Mulli Brothers Limited has, through lawyers Ritz Attorneys at Law, given Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda 48 hours to remove the firm from the list of companies not allowed to do business with the government.
But while indicating that he had not yet received the letter from Ritz on the matter Sunday, Chakaka Nyirenda described the demand as strange.
In a letter dated July 15 2022, titled ‘Reversal of Attorney General’s Directive Preventing MBL from Participating in Public Procurement’, Ritz Attorneys at Law Partner Lusungu Gondwe says failure by the AG to reverse the directive would result in MBL taking judicial review proceedings against the AG, which would unnecessarily expose the government to wastage of public resources.
Gondwe has described Nyirenda’s purported directive to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) stopping MBL from doing business with the government as ultra vires, unlawful and needless usurpation of the powers of the PPDA.
According to Gondwe, MBL believes it has the right to fair administrative action which includes the right to be heard.
Gondwe says neither the AG nor the PPDA has the right to condemn MBL unheard.
“Our client further believes that, under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, the Attorney General has no powers to prevent our client from participating in public procurement. The Act has an independent framework for barring or preventing businesses from participating in public procurement.
“There is no need for Attorney General’s interference or intervention. The directive is therefore ultra vires and unlawful. It is a needless usurpation of the powers of the PPDA,” the letter reads.
In a written response to The Daily Times questions Sunday, Chakaka Nyirenda said the demand was strange as MBL is only basing its demand on a newspaper article.
“Only entities with demonstrable financial capacity are eligible to participate in public procurement.
“The law does not allow affiliated entities or entities owned by a single person to compete against each other in public tendering of goods and services. The law aims at breaking the chain of monopolies,” he said.
The AG’s alleged directive to blacklist MBL is contained in a letter dated May 12 2022 from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Director General Eddington Chilapondwa to Secretary for Health withholding a No Objection in a contract where Mulli Brothers were to provide warehousing and distribution services of long-lasting treated nets (LLNS) to the ministry.
According to Chilapondwa, one of the reasons PPDA withheld the No Objection is that Mulli Brothers is one of the companies appearing on the AG’s list of firms not allowed to do business with the government.
“The recommended supplier of this service is under Attorney General’s list of firms not to do business with government until issues in question are cleared by the Attorney General’s office or else until administrative review is done,” the letter reads.
Chilapondwa adds that the proposed contract price adjustment in the mosquito nets deals from K535,500,189.60 to K1,166,473,269.24 represents an increase of K630,973,079.64, which is 118 percent and is too high to justify any contract extension without first at least verifying with current market prices.
“Therefore, please be advised that No Objection has been withheld for the proposed extension of the contract for the provision of warehousing and distribution services of long-lasting treated nets by Mulli Brothers Limited at a revised price of K1,166,473,269.24.
“We wish to advise the ministry to start a new procurement process to identify the service provider for warehousing and distribution of the nets,” Chilapondwa says.
When contacted on Thursday, Chakaka Nyirenda said he would not comment on the issue of blacklisting Mulli Brothers Limited, saying the letter from PPDA did not originate from him and is not addressed to him.
“How should I comment on something that is neither from me nor addressed to me?” Chakaka Nyirenda said.
Asked further about when Mulli Brothers Limited was included on the blacklist and what sins the firm committed, Chakaka Nyirenda initially said he could not answer that.