By Cedric Nkungula
Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has described the country’s procurement laws as one biggest conduit fueling corruption in the country.
Addressing Malawians on Tuesday when he unveiled the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation report on allegations of bribery against public officers and businessman Zuneth Sattar, Chakwera said procurement processes are defrauding government millions of kwacha through unfairly high and inflated prices.
Chakwera said in it’s investigation, ACB found that in the four years between 2017 and 2021, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) awarded 16 contracts worth over 150 million US dollars to five companies belonging to businessman Sattar.
Chakwera said the report cited an example of a business transaction involving a truck available on the market for 200 thousand dollars but was sold to government for over 1.7 million dollars.
The investigation, said the president, also noted that some public officers abuse their offices either intentionally or by usurping procurement functions outside their mandate.
The president added that the investigation also found out that some public officers mandated to do due diligence and provide checks and balances allegedly neglected or failed to do so.
“This means that one driver of corruption in Malawi is the country’s procurement laws allowing contracts to be awarded to companies without regard for the beneficial ownership of those companies which allows business persons to capture the state through unknown contract monopolies,” said the president.
However, Chakwera said the report also discovered that some procurement processes are too cumbersome to follow as laid down in the law.
“As such, the amendments we are making to the procurement regulations will also streamline and simplify the procedures and in the months that follow, controlling officers of all government ministries, departments and agencies will be oriented to the new approach,” he said.
The president has since directed ministry of justice to fast track the new procurement legislation to help rectify gaps in the procurement procedures.
The president said he has also tasked secretary to the president and cabinet to work with controlling officers of MDA’s to look into acts of negligence and take appropriate action to discipline wrongdoers and strengthen oversight mechanisms.