By Wezzie Gausi
The State Wednesday paraded its first witness in the case where former Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) chief executive officer Collins Magalasi is answering fraud charges in the procurement of a K700 million fuel-testing van from City Motors.
The witness, Frank Newa, who is Chief Regulatory Officer at Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA), told the court that procedures were floated in the purchase of the van.
Newa said he was assigned to review Mera procurement processes by the PPDA director general.
Among other things, Newa told the court that, in its bidding documents, Mera said the procurement period would be between 10 and 12 weeks while City Motors indicated that it would deliver the van between 12 and 20 weeks, which was outside the specified delivery period.
“Mera also indicated that they would charge liquidated damages for late delivery but the damage fee was not paid after late delivery.
“I also found that about K563 million was paid in advance but it was not authorised by the Director General of PPDA as per law, which I found as a mis-procurement,” Newa said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni said a total of six witnesses are expected to testify in the case.
Initially, the State had indicated that it would bring 14 witnesses but Kayuni said the number was trimmed after thorough scrutiny.
“Well, we are happy that the first witness has given out his testimony to the court. However, we planned to have three witnesses today but, on short notice, the other two gave excuses,” Kayuni said.
Lawyer for Magalasi, Andy Kaonga, said with what the witnesses said during cross-examination, it was clear that there was no case for the accused to answer.
“The witness was contradicting himself. With what the court heard, all procedures were followed during the procurement of the van,” Kaonga said.
On April 3 2019, Mera awarded a procurement contract to City Motors, who indicated that they would procure the van on behalf of Mera at K704 million.
On May 7 2019, Mera paid K563.2 million to City Motors as a down-payment for the procurement contract sum.
This was an 80 percent advance payment. Despite this payment, City Motors never procured and supplied the van to Mera throughout 2019.
Senior Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has, meanwhile, adjourned the case to November 14 2021, when the State will continue parading witnesses.