‘The Deputy Inspector General used the draft letter and responded to PPDA as if a bid evaluation exercise had been conducted and the Malawi Police Service had chosen Xavier Ltd to provide the food rations under the $7,875,000.00 contract.’ – Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report
The new Inspector General Merlyne Yolamu played a role in what the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has described as illegal and irregular $7,875,000 Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations contract.
The deal eventually earned George Kainja an arrest and cost him his job as Inspector General, paving way for Yolamu’s rise.
Yolamu’s role is detailed in the report which the ACB presented to President Lazarus Chakwera last month.
Moved by the report, Chakwera fired Kainja and suspended Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga, chairperson for the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority John Suzi Banda and further suspended his delegated functions to Vice President Saulos Chilima.
The ACB arrested Kainja and deputy commissioner and service legal officer Mwabi Kaluba in relation to the food rations contract investigations.
On July 22, 2022, Chakwera appointed Yolamu to replace Kainja.
She is expected to be confirmed as IG on Monday next week by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Supplier driven contract
According to the ACB report which we have seen, the requisition of food ration came from the supplier instead of the user department within the MPS.
The report says there was no description of requirements as the contract was not planned by the MPS.
“The IPDC [Internal Procurement and Disposal Committee] met to discuss this contract, but this meeting did not assess the description requirements as there was no reference point since this procurement was not planned and budgeted for,” reads the report.
ACB investigations established that the IPDC meeting was convened to rubber stamp the illegal and irregular procurement contract which was initiated by the supplier instead of the procurement entity.
“From the foregoing, this contract was initially a single source procurement. However, when the request for a no objection was sent to PPDA, the MPS was advised to use restricted tendering instead of single sourcing,” reads the report.
The report says it is at that point that Zuneth Sattar sent two names of his other companies to MPS through Kainja, namely, Tactical Distributors SA and Moonstone General Trading, to disguise that there was a shortlisting of companies when such process did not take place.
The report says ideally, the MPS was to independently conduct a bid evaluation exercise for three companies that they had identified through restricted tendering as advised by the PPDA.
“However, as discussed in the preceding paragraph, the bid evaluation was to be conducted for the three of Sattar’s companies,” reads the report.
According to the report, the bid evaluation process did not even take place as it was Sattar who drafted a letter in form of a bid evaluation report for the three companies and justified why the MPS opted for Xavier Ltd.
The report says: “Zuneth Sattar sent this draft to Dr. Kainja who later sent it to Mwabi Kaluba, a lawyer working in the legal department, and instructed him to put it on the Malawi Police Service letter head.
“Mwabi Kaluba sent the draft he got from Sattar through Dr. Kainja to the Deputy Inspector General namely Mrs. Yoramu, who was the IPDC chairperson by virtue of her position, as if it was him, Mwabi Kaluba, who had drafted the letter.”
The report adds: “The Deputy Inspector General used the draft letter and responded to PPDA as if a bid evaluation exercise had been conducted and the Malawi Police Service had chosen Xavier Ltd to provide the food rations under the contract.”
The ACB report says Xavier Ltd initially offered the food ration packs at $23 but with an objection from PPDA and advice to use restricted tendering, he reduced it to $22.50.
When PPDA gave the MPS a No Objection, the MPS entered into contract with Xavier Ltd on September 13, 2021.
The contract has a reference number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 for 350,000 ration packs at a contract price of $22.50 and a total sum of $7,875,000.00.
The report says the food ration packs was restricted by the ACB in October 2021 and no delivery was made.
“However, through the procurement process, officers from MPS and other public officers obtained bribes from Sattar in various amounts,” the report reads.
We sought a comment from Yolamu through national police deputy spokesperson Harry Namwaza on the ACB report and the role she played.
He said: “We have not seen the report in reference. However, as far as we are concerned all the necessary procedures were followed.”
We also asked the ACB why it has not arrested or cleared some of those implicated in the Sattar corruption investigations, a month after presenting its report the President.
ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala said it is handling the case professionally and called for the understanding of the public.
“The public should understand that there are processes that are followed before any operation can be conducted as stipulated by the law,” Ndala said.
‘High moral capital’
Director for Centre for Research and Consultancy Milwad Tobias said if Malawi is to win the war against corruption, then it needs all the soldiers on the battle front to be clean and loyal.
“Fighting corruption is a war. To win a war, troops must be loyal to their nation. It is difficult to win a war when troops are compromised. It is impossible to win a war when the commander is compromised,” Tobias said.
He added: “In fighting corruption the troops are all agencies responsible for the fight against corruption. These include the Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Reserve Bank of Malawi, Financial Intelligence Authority, Malawi Revenue Authority and Directorate of Public Prosecutions. The commander is the President”.
Executive Director for Church and Society of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) Reverend Master Jumbe said there is need for what he called “high moral capital” if Malawi is to make progress in the fight.
Asked for a comment, Malawi Human Rights Commission chairperson Scader Lewis who had earlier lauded Yolamu’s appointment said:
“We have not engaged on this issue and we have no evidence to that effect. It is best ACB as an interested institution or the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] himself should comment on this.”