The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Public Procurement Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) have come under spotlight for failing to crack a whip on Fresenius Medical Care, which is embroiled in myriad cases bordering on bribery and corruption across the globe.
The German-based provider of medical products and services was recently charged for bribery and corruption in a number of companies, including the United States of America (USA).
Despite the criminal record, senior officials in the the Kidney Foundation Malawi is working tirelessly to ensure the company gets a lion’s share of the contracts in the health sector. A development that has prompted health and social commentators to question the sincerity and commitment of ACB and PPDA in their fight against corruption and bribery in the public procurement sector.
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) executive director, Sylvester Namiwa, said in a normal circumstance, such a company was supposed to be blacklisted as a demonstration of the government’s commitment to rooting out corruption in the procurement sector.
“Of course, I don’t have much information about this contract. But in any layman’s understand, we would have expected the relevant bodies to take steps towards blacklisting the company,” said Namiwa.
Chairperson for the Kidney Foundation Malawi, Frank Mwale, while aware of the criminality, denies being bribed or corrupt in his championing of the company.
ACB Senior Public Relations Officer Egritta Ndala requested for a questionnaire a week ago, but has returned any responses.
PPDA publicist Grace Thipha has also not responded either to our questionnaire sent to her a week ago.
Staff at the PPDA are wondering why ACB is not acting promptly to block companies with known and admitted criminalities from tendering on government contracts.
“We can not comprehend the decision making and vetting procedures operated by ACB. A simple google check would reveal the criminal track record of the company. Why do we want to enrich criminals?” said our source at PPDA.
Interestingly, the awarding of a contract to Fresenius Medical Care is in defiance to the expert advice from various stakeholders, PPDA, who were against single sourcing in the procurement of dialysis services.
For instance, on February 1, 2021, PPDA advised the ministry to extend expired service contracts with previous dialysis service providers for both KCH and QECH and have a fresh open tender within six months to find new suppliers.
“Kindly be advised that after careful consideration of the available information the Authority has determined that you are required to conduct a fresh open tendering procurement process of dialysis services. In this process the service provider is expected to supply, deliver, install, commission and maintain dialysis equipment and supply and deliver related consumables and accessories,” reads part of the letter the PPDA wrote the Ministry of Health.
Nyasa Times has it on authority that officials have been piling pressure on PPDA to approve their single source application to enable them award the contract to Fresenius Medical Care.
Fresenius agreed with the US government continued cooperation with the investigators so it can enhance its compliance program, implement rigorous internal controls and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least two years.
It is against this background that social and health rights commentators in Malawi are wagging their tongues, wondering what might have influenced the Kidney Foundation and accomplices to stick with this company.
The Kidney Foundation leadership recently threatened to hold a vigil at the State House to force the government to give Fresenius Medical Care the contract despite complaints from patients that its services were poor.
A highly placed source at the ministry confided in Nyasa Times that Dr Charles Mwansambo was palm-oiled so that the contract should not go anywhere else except Fresenius Medical Care.
A concerned Malawian, Yamikani Nicholas Kachingwe, complained to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to institute investigation against Kidney Foundation Malawi chairperson Frank Mwale and his colleagues.
“My worry is that, why should these two people be so desperate to force the Procurement department and why are they in forefront spearheading narratives in favour of the international kidney company?
“Don’t we have equally suited companies in Malawi? At least if their arguments could have been to ask the government to advertise the tenders publicly and select the rightful bidders but NO! THESE TWO PEOPLE MASQUERADING BEHIND THE KIDNEY FOUNDATION just want the Government to rubber stamp the contract WHY AND HOW? What is in for them?” said Kachingwe in his letter to ACB.
In March this year, Fresenius Medical Care agreed to pay approximately $231 million to resolve investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with Fresenius’s participation in various corrupt schemes to obtain business in multiple foreign countries.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :