Malawi govt to proceed with anti-corruption software Ifmis procurement from Zimbabwe firm

Malawi government is going ahead to procure  a new  anti-corruption software Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) at $14.8 million (about K10.2 billion) from a Zimbabwean-owned Twenty Third Century Systems – a “gold partner” of German-based multinational SAP –even though it was third-ranked bidder in 2015 and its bid is understood to have expired a year later.

Chiphiko: It looks like a misprocurement

Accountant General Chrighton Chimombo confirmed the procurement will proceed and  that the system will be operational in 2019.

Chimombo said after meeting the  Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament that  Treasury is negotiating with the winning bidder “not to increase the amount” as prices of things have increased and hope  “by next week we will be through.”

The software solution for the state’s new Ifmis)is intended as a response to the 2013 Cashgate scandal, which exposed the weakness of the Malawi government’s financial controls.

Parliament’s budget and finance committee has strongly criticised both the long delay in the procurement and the sudden engagement of Twenty Third Century.

Rhino Chiphiko, the committee’s chairperson, said the committee did not normally intervene in procurement issues, but “we are really concerned about this one because it looks like a misprocurement”.

Chiphiko went on to suggest that the procurement delay might have been driven by corrupt motives.

“The committee strongly believes that the delays are to make it possible to siphon off money, because the current Ifmis is so porous,” he said.

Parliamentary public accounts committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani described the procurement as “worrisome”.

“If the system that is aimed at dealing with fraud is being (improperly) procured, then we really are damned,” Menyani said.

In its 2014 report on Cashgate, Malawi’s public accounts committee found that the government’s existing financial control system was manipulated by criminals, leading to the massive theft of public resources.

The government launched a “business process review” by a task force that proposed the complete replacement of the system.

The committee noted that this was supposed to have happened by July 2014 “due to procurement processes in line with World Bank procedures”.

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