Youth and Society (YAS), a civil society organisation (CSO), has taken to task Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dan Namarika and 11 other officials over the flouting of the law prohibiting employees of a procuring and disposing public entity from bidding for its auctioned assets.

Namalika and other officials bought cars from their ministry in a public auction which Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe described as illegal.

According to information, Namalika bought himself two vehicles—a 15 tonner Iveco lorry registration MG870 AC and a Toyota Hilux D4D—031MG1836 at a value we could not independently verify.

The CSO has since given Namarika seven days to explain why he had and other officials disregarded the public procurement law and bought the vehicles the ministry disposed of.

YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said Namarika and the officials acted against Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act of 2017, which prohibits employees of disposing public entity from participating in the auction.

In a letter dated January 16 2019 made available to Nyasa Times, YAS is demanding that Namarika supplies it with copes of all relevant documentation, including any notice of a public auction, or tendering in sealed bids, summary of bids received if any, and/or records of the disposal process which out to be kept in terms of Section 32(1) of the Act.

The Attorney General is also requested to indicate if he intends to institute any civil proceedings against the beneficiaries to annul disposals and recover the motor vehicles or proceeds of other further disposal.

Kajoloweka has warned that his organisation will take measures to secure the public interest if no satisfactory response is given.

He said YAS has already served Namarika the letter.

According to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act of 2017, employees and relatives of a disposing public entity are not allowed to participate in the auction.

“A procuring and disposing entity shall not enter into a procurement or disposal contract with its employee, or any close relative of any employee,” reads Section 35 of the new law.

The law particularly emphasises that all disposal proceedings should be conducted in a manner which promotes transparency, accountability and fairness, according to Section 38, which also provides alternative ways of disposing assets.

“Public assets shall be disposed of by open means such as disposal of public auction or tendering with sealed bids…a procuring and disposing entity may, upon obtaining prior approval from the Director General, use alternative means including (a) transfer the asset to another procuring and disposing entity; (b) destruction or writing off of the asset; (c) trade-in; or (d) conversion or classification of asset into another form”

Apart from Namalika, the list of other beneficiaries, according to our sources, ranged from drivers, a member of the Internal Procurement and Disposal Committee, a departmental head and a district health officer.

According to the Public Finance Management framework, disposal of assets is approved by the Chief Secretary, Secretary to Treasury, Accountant General or a Controlling Officer of the disposing entity depending on the nature and value of Assets.

After the approval, valuation for vehicles is normally done by the PVHES.