Following your recent well-researched expose on Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya’s corrupt U-turn on the procurement of ambulances, I have a few questions to ask as to why the Ministry of Health proceeded to order sub-standard ambulances from Iveco when there was a running contract with Savenda Management Services.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the government is being needlessly blamed for the inefficiencies of Dr Chilufya who has no regard for tender procedures as set out by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA).
This has ended up dampening the morale of hardworking local business entities that have been helping the government in the area of job creation.
The verbatim report you published, in which Dr Chilufya was briefing Parliament on November 11, 2017 regarding the contract in which Savenda was to supply 50 purpose-built ambulances at a total cost of US$11.5m exposed Dr Chilufya as not being trustworthy and hence a burden to the government.
In his own words, as you correctly quoted him, Dr Chilufya told Parliament the following:
“Sir, the procurement process may not be halted at this stage, as the contract was entered into in 2015 and the government has made payments towards this procurement. “
Given the above statement that was made on November 11, 2017 in which Dr Chilufya categorically stated that the procurement process could not be halted, at what point did the Ministry of Health decide to halt the procurement process involving Savenda Management Services?
Further, who was involved in that decision?
How transparent was it?
Dr Chilufya also made it clear that the government was still making payments towards the procurement of the ambulances. At no point did he tell Parliament that Savenda was required to bring in the ambulances at only 25 percent of the total cost.
The following words are self-explanatory:
“An initial 10 per cent was made in 2015 and was followed by a further 15 per cent of the cost in 2016. Subsequent payments will be made as resources are made available.”
Were these subsequent payments made? When were they made? How much was paid?
If not, did the Ministry expect the ambulances to be delivered when no subsequent payments had been made towards the procurement of the Mercedes Benz ambulances?
Now, let us look at the other words that Dr Chilufya told Parliament.
“In the meantime, preparation and the various conversions required on the units have commenced, and they are all still overseas. At an appropriate time, the government will send a technical team to perform pre-shipment inspection to assure value for money of the final product.”
Was this technical team sent to perform pre-shipment inspection? When was that done?
If the answer is in the affirmative, what did the inspection bring out?
At what point did the Ministry of Health decide to breach the contract with Savenda and go to Iveco?
What was Dr Chilufya’s interest in Iveco?
Dr Chilufya has not told the Zambian people if there was anything wrong with the Mercedes Benz ambulances which he so passionately defended in Parliament.
The impression created is that Savenda had failed to honor the contract to supply the ambulances and yet this is a respectable company that has become the world’s entry point to Africa as recently published in The Economist magazine.
Did Dr Chilufya ask for a kickback from Savenda which was denied and he then found an excuse to eat from Iveco?
It should also be noted that for Savenda to be awarded the contract to supply the 50 ambulances, an open international competitive tender was floated, which attracted thirteen responses.
Was the due process followed when awarded the tender to Iveco?
Was the Ministry of Health institutional ministerial procurement committee involved?
Were the due diligence and technical and financial evaluations made as prescribed by law?
If not, the procurement process for the Iveco ambulances was a sham and deeply steeped in corruption.
Characters like Dr Chilufya and his Permanent Secretary Mulalelo Kakulubelwa are the ones who are tarnishing the name of the president.
These are the same people involved in the awarding of the highly contentious contract for the construction of Bangweulu Hospital. This is another controversial contract that did not go through the ZPPA.
Government officials should be helping the President to boost the country’s economy instead of being in the forefront frustrating hardworking Zambians whose companies are contributing to job creation and the country’s GDP.