The Office of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) has disclosed that it will work with the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) following revelations that the Ministry of Health chose a suspected corrupt foreign medical supply firm— Fresenius Medical Care South Africa— to supply dialysis services to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH).
Last week, the Ministry of Health was censured for offering a K262 million single-source three-year contract to Fresenius Medical Care, following revelations that the company was fined millions of dollars in the United States for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
In an interview with The Daily Times Sunday, PPDA Chief Executive Officer Elias Hausi said they had withheld their No Objection for the KCH contract even before they saw reports in the media, further saying they would work with the ACB on the matter.
“For KCH, we have withheld our No Objection. This was before we saw the news article on the issue of corruption. Apart from what we saw in the newspaper, we don’t have full details on the matter. We will be working with our counterparts at ACB. As authorities on matters of corruption, they have always given us good guidance. So, till then, I cannot comment on the next course of action,” he said.
Earlier, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence said they would ask ACB and PPDA to investigate Fresenius Medical Care and run background -checks on the company.
Reacting to this, Hausi said his office was yet to get communication from HRDC.
“HRDC has not approached PPDA; at least I don’t have any communication from them.
“We had a submission from the ministry to extend the contract at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech) and to extend the service to Kamuzu Central Hospital. We did not grant ‘No Objection’ for the later. Our reasons for withholding the No Objection were communicated to the Ministry of Health,” he said.
On December 15 2020, the Ministry of Health wrote PPDA requesting for a ‘No Objection’ to award a three-year single-source contract to Fresenius Medical Care at the cost of K262 million [about R4, 756,803].
In the same letter, the ministry also requested for the three-year extension of the company’s contract with Qech at the cost of K200 million [R3, 644,942.88] without openly tendering.
However, PPDA rejected KCH’s contract on the basis that the tender for the contract should have been open sourced while approving the ministry’s request to extend the Qech contract by three more years.
In a letter to Ministry of Health, dated December 18 2020, PPDA—for rejecting the request to expand Fresenius Medical Care dialysis service to KCH— argued that the approach the ministry took did not satisfy any of the conditions for the use of single-source method of procurement as provided for under Section 37 (9) of the PPD Act.
“The procurement of additional dialysis equipment and supply and delivery of dialysis consumables and related accessories should, therefore, be realised through open means in order for the government of Malawi to realise value for money in the procurement.
“You are kindly advised to conduct fresh procurement proceedings for the supply and delivery of dialysis equipment and services-level agreement for the supply and delivery of consumables and accessories for Kamuzu Central Hospital,” reads the PPDA letter, which Patrick Nkunika signed, to the Ministry of Health.