Chief Professional Development Officer at the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), Peter Makanga, has said the office never knew about the contracts and contractors who are being accused of money laundering in a K2.4 billion case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Makanga, the seventh state witness in the case, told the court yesterday that despite him being the ODPP desk officer responsible for the then Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, the contractors which fiscal police officers presented in November 2013 were very strange to him.
The nine businesspersons including Stafford Mpoola, Andrew Chilalika, Sympathy Chisale, Fatch Chungano, Limumba Karim, Stanley Mtambo, Cecilia Ng’ambi, Gerald Phiri and Ndaona Satema are answering money laundering charges for allegedly lending business certificates for personalisation to Mphwiyo and other civil servants.
Makanga said the development raised eyebrows and that if contracts were awarded then they were irregularly awarded.
‘The contractors that were being mentioned, most of them were very strange to me and when fiscal police asked about them, I even went into our files for as way back as 2011 and, after checking the books, they were not there. And we never provided the no objections for them. Surprisingly, most of them were above K5 million thresholds,” Makanga said.
He, however, confessed to have dealt with one of the mentioned companies, Stadal Building Contractors, a company belonging to one of the accused contractors, Stanford Mpoola, but that that was under the Local Government and Rural Development contracts.
Asked if he has ever interacted with Mphwiyo, Makanga said they were classmates in college and play social football together but they have never interacted professionally.
Speaking after being given the charge sheet for the case, Makanga said “looking at the contracts being mentioned,” they should have passed through the ODPP.
When defence lawyers asked if people who are not civil servants would know about any possible irregular procurement, Makanga said some would and some would not but it was his expectation that any good or ethical contractor would only take up a contract after taking a bid at some point.
He also said no officer in the ODPP could have processed normal Ministry of Tourism procurement documents at that time as he was never absent between April and November 2013.
“Everything that was normal in the Ministry of Tourism came to me and everything that was abnormal probably, went to other officers,” he said.
Makanga also said he does not expect the Accountant General’s office to accept a procurement vendors’ list that any ministry may have created on its own and, in the event that such a thing happens, then the Accountant General’s office and ministry in question will be responsible for the wrongdoing.
The case continues with continued cross-examination and possibly re-examination of Makanga on Friday.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues