When it comes to procurement mess, the Ministry of Health which still has remnants of the DPP coordinated fraud scheme tops the list. Their corroborator with whom they execute the siphoning scheme has been Paramount Holdings.
Upon coming to power in 2020, the Tonse-led administration in that year immediately suspended all contracts awarded by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government in order to review and conduct an audit on circumstances surrounding the awarding of the contracts.
The cancellation of the award of contracts happened when the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was probing Paramount Holdings Limited over a Ministry of Health K4 billion ambulance contract it was awarded in 2019. Discoveries emerged that fraud was involved in that contract.
In another contract related to Ministry of Health, Paramount Holdings allegedly used fake documents to win a motorcycles supply contract at Kamuzu Central Hospital – affiliated NGO. This scandal attracted a criminal matter which is still weighing on the shoulders of Paramount Holdings.
In a latest episode, CHISU government hospital, which falls under the Ministry of Health, advertised a tender in January this year in which Paramount Holdings was one of the participants. Later in July, the contract was offered to Farming Engineering Services (FES), a Zambian international bidder who came lowest on the bidding to the tune of 1.3 billion Kwacha.
However, it appears that FES expressed a concern that it has taken long to award them a contract that the prices have gone up including some devaluations that have happened in between. Sources indicate that the authorities at CHISU new that the FES would not manage to deliver the required number and specifications of the motorcycles at that price given the high prices on the market.
This award to EFS, therefore, appears to be a bait and shield. First pointer is that the award to FES was given without any notifications of award of the contract, contrary to public contracting rules regulations. The move was done in the backyard without knowledge of all other bidders. After about two weeks from the awarding, the contract was cancelled citing delays in delivery. That was the point when FES expressed the concerns about the contract amount.
Meanwhile, inside sources at CHISU have confirmed that the contract has been awarded to Paramount Holdings to the tune of about 2 Billion Kwacha yet again without informing all the bidders. The sources further informed that the contract was signed on Tuesday last week.
Raising further suspicions, the type of motorcycles which Paramount Holdings has been allowed to procure and deliver are different from Yamaha DT 125 which was specified in the contract. The motorcycles which Paramount Holdings has allegedly signed for is cheaper.
This variation has been done without following the procurement rules and regulations, raising fears that the money syphoning syndicate planted by the DPP regime is alive and kicking at the Ministry of Health.