Deputy health min­is­ter in ten­der storm

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Chitemba In­ves­ti­ga­tions Ed­i­tor

HEALTH and Child Care Deputy Min­is­ter Dr John Mang­wiro al­legedly rail­roaded the Na­tional Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Com­pany (NatPharm), in dra­matic events, in­clud­ing vis­it­ing the paras­tatal’s work­ers at night and threat­en­ing them with dis­missal, to award a US$5,6 mil­lion con­tract to an “un­de­serv­ing com­pany” — Young Health Care.

This is con­tained in a Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (zacc) re­port which says the Deputy Min­is­ter had “per­sonal in­ter­est” in the mat­ter.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, con­ducted from Au­gust 31 to Septem­ber 4 this year, looked into cir­cum­stances of how the

Min­istry of Health and Child Care han­dled a Covid-19 ten­der (NAT ITCB FWWK 04/2020) for the pur­chase of lab­o­ra­tory equip­ment, reagents and con­sum­ables.

The Sunday Mail re­cently re­ported that se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were al­legedly caught with hands in the till over the Covid-19 ma­te­ri­als pro­cure­ment.

The al­leged scan­dal was un­earthed fol­low­ing a whistle­blower’s tip-off in Au­gust.

Reached for com­ment, Dr Mang­wiro said: “Sorry, I cant talk right now”, in a terse SMS re­sponse to The Sunday Mail, af­ter his phone went unan­swered.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the com­mis­sion rec­om­mended a fur­ther probe to check if the Deputy Min­is­ter crim­i­nally abused his of­fice; pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment and Dis­posal of Pub­lic As­sets.

The sus­pected vi­o­la­tions stem from al­le­ga­tions against the Deputy Min­is­ter that he or­dered NatPharm to give Young Health Care a ten­der and ad­vance pay­ments be­fore de­liv­ery of goods.

Dr Mang­wiro, the zacc re­port says, usurped the du­ties of the Min­istry’s Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary through is­su­ing count­less di­rec­tives to NatPharm.

Young Health Care, it emerged, was given a con­tract through a di­rec­tive from then act­ing Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Dr Gib­son Mh­langa, at a time when it was not even reg­is­tered with the Pro­cure­ment Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of Zim­babwe (Praz) as re­quired by law.

NatPharm act­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mr Zeal­ous Nyabadza re­sisted the al­leged un­law­ful act by Min­istry of Health and Child Care of­fi­cials

re­sult­ing in a pub­lic ten­der­ing process which was de­layed to al­low Young Health Care to reg­is­ter with Praz.

In part, the zacc re­port reads: “Ini­tial quo­ta­tion by Young Health Care for sup­ply of com­modi­ties un­der di­rect pro­cure­ment, where prices quoted by Young Heath Care Lim­ited were ex­or­bi­tant amounted to USD$5 600 000, which was coin­ci­den­tally the same amount that was in the Min­istry cof­fers, sug­gest­ing that the com­pany had in­side in­for­ma­tion.

“When NatPharm in­sisted on com­pet­i­tive bid­ding, Young Health Care Lim­ited sub­se­quently sub­mit­ted a bid price of USD$3 600 000 for the same items. This saw a re­duc­tion of 36 per­cent in the price.”

The pub­lic ten­der was then done on Au­gust 7, 2020, with 22 com­pa­nies com­pet­ing for the con­tract.

zacc said Dr Mang­wiro al­legedly sidesteppe­d and ca­joled NatPharm top managers, at odd hours, to award the ten­der to Young Health Care be­fore threat­en­ing the paras­tatal’s work­ers with dis­missal if they acted oth­er­wise.

“The Deputy Min­is­ter de­manded that a pur­chase order be is­sued that same night.

“The ad­ju­di­ca­tion team was picked from their homes around 2200 hours and were in­ter­ro­gated by the Deputy Min­is­ter un­til the early hours of the fol­low­ing day. The Deputy Min­is­ter threat­ened the team with dis­missal for fail­ing to award Young Health Care the con­tracts,” reads the zacc re­port.

Young Health Care was then awarded a con­tract to sup­ply goods worth US$124 630 in­stead of US$922 000 that had been de­manded as ad­vance pay­ment.

The zacc re­port says, “Young Health Care

Lim­ited man­aged to de­liver a pal­try 6 per­cent of Nu­cleic Acid and an­other 6 per­cent of Trans­port Me­dia but went on to re­quest pre-pay­ment for the awarded con­tract, in­clud­ing un­de­liv­ered sup­plies con­trary to the terms and con­di­tions of the con­tract signed with Natpharm, which stip­u­lates that pay­ment should be made seven days af­ter de­liv­ery (post-pay­ment).

“The Deputy Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care, Dr Mang­wiro, re­port­edly in­sisted on pre-pay­ment and tasked the tech­ni­cal team from lab­o­ra­tory and Natpharm pro­cure­ment to visit Young Health Care Lim­ited in their coun­try of­fice and ver­ify avail­able stock to com­pel Natpharm to make a pre-pay­ment to Young Health Care Lim­ited.”

This had a neg­a­tive im­pact on the ten­der­ing process as the tech­ni­cal ad­ju­di­ca­tion team did not carry out ver­i­fi­ca­tion of sup­plies.

“Given the ex­tent to which the Deputy Min­is­ter was in­volved in the said ten­der process, in­di­ca­tions are that he was act­ing in his own ca­pac­ity and not on be­half of the min­istry. The ac­tions of the Deputy Min­is­ter sig­nal a per­sonal in­ter­est in the ten­der and this should have prompted him to de­clare his in­ter­est,” the re­port said.

The ten­der was later can­celled due to the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and will now be re-floated to al­low de­serv­ing com­pa­nies to sup­plies the much needed lab­o­ra­tory equip­ment, reagents and con­sum­ables for Covid-19.

For­mer Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr Oba­diah Moyo was fired over his in­volve­ment in a US$60 mil­lion Covid-19 pro­cure­ment scan­dal.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­clared zero tol­er­ance to cor­rup­tion.

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