SFFRFM’s AIP contracts case refuses to die
Thirty companies whose Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) contracts were cancelled by the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) are seeking legal redress.
They are taking the action for what they consider to be a breach of an undertaking which SFFRFM had made to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) review committee.
In January this year, the 30 companies, through Kita & Company, dragged PPDA and its Director General to court for allegedly not acting on their application to review SFFRFM’s decision to cancel their offer of contracts after getting a No Objection from PPDA to supply 185,700 metric tonnes of fertiliser under the AIP.
When the matter came up for review by the PPDA committee, media reports indicated a decision had been made that the companies would be allowed to supply inputs by February 15, 2023.
However, the companies did not supply the fertiliser as government did not re-issue them the contracts because, we understand, the PPDA did not extend the earlier ‘No Objection’.
In an interview on Friday last week, lawyer for the firms, Wapona Kita, said because of the breach made to the PPDA review committee decision, the firms are proceeding with a legal action.
“The Minister [of Agriculture] is correct [that no contract was given to the companies].
“However, all that was in breach of an undertaking that SFFRFM had made to the PPDA review committee, and there is a decision of the committee to that effect.
“Based on the breach of this undertaking my clients have instructed that we seek legal redress so we are proceeding to do that but I won’t disclose the nature of legal redress we are commencing,” he said.
In an interview with Malawi News two weeks ago, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said the 30 companies were not involved in the supply of AIP materials in the 2022-23 farming season because they were not awarded contracts.
“An intention to award a contract and offering a contract are two different things so none of those people were offered a contract so they could not supply anything if they were not offered a contract.
“How can they deliver if they were not offered a contract? They did not take part in the AIP,” he said.
SFFRFM Chief Executive Officer Richard Chikunkhuzeni said his organisation and the 30 prospective suppliers had reached a mutual resolution to proceed to contract negotiations and have the negotiations concluded by February 15, 2023.
He said carrying into effect the mutual resolution was dependent on the PPDA’s ‘No Objection’ being extended.
“SFFRFM’s efforts to obtain an extension of the ‘No Objection’ were not successful. Extension of a ‘No Objection” is at the discretion of the PPDA. SFFRFM respects the position the PPDA took on the matter,” he said.
There was no response from the PPDA after we contacted its spokesperson, Kate Kujaliwa.