Graft-buster K6.8bn contract scandal dominate Malawi press

By | August 6, 2016

The week has ended with Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director Lucas Kondowe  is dominating headlines in the Malawi weekend newspapers.

Kondowe (left) and Kamoto: Tussle over K6.8billion contract

Kondowe (left) and Kamoto: Tussle over K6.8billion contract

” ACB boss in Mera’s contract scandal,” screamed a banner headline in the influential Malawi News  of Saturday, reporting about  Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) Chief Executive Officer Ralph Kamoto accusing Kondowe  of forcing him to award a K6.8 billion contract to build the body’s headquarters in Lilongwe to a company that failed in the bid.

Kamoto has since reported Kondowe to the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale claiming harassment and that what the ACB boss was trying to get from Mera was “corruption of the highest order and abuse of his office”.

The Mera boss also told Kaphale that Kondowe threatened to put the project into a “neutral gear” if Mera does not give the contract to Sogecoa Anhui Construction Company although Mera’s Internal Procurement Committee selected Terrastone Limited at its meeting on April 4 2016.

On the other hand, the Weekend Nation screamed with a headline: ‘MERA, ACB lock horns’.

The story went that award of a K6.8 billion contract to Terrastone Limited to construct a Mera office complex has become the centre of conflict between Mera and ACB with the former complaining to the Attorney General (AG) of harassment and abuse of power and forcing Mera to award the contract to Sogecoa.

In the story, the Weekend Nation reports that Kamoto explained  to Attorney genral  that Mera invited and obtained bids for the construction of the office complex and obtained a ‘No objection’ from the director of Office Public Procurement (ODPP) to award the contract to Terrastone.

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“A few days later, a senior officer of the ACB called and told me to cancel the award and give it to Sogecoa; otherwise, I would burn my fingers and he would put the whole process in ‘neutral gear,” Kamoto is quoted saying.

According to the weekly, And Timothy Kalembo, on behalf of the ODPP in Reference number ODPP/03/279 on April 7 2016 wrote Mera: “We wish to inform you that this office has granted its ‘No Objection’ for you to proceed granting the contract of procurement of works for the construction of the Mera office complex to Terrastone Limited. You may now proceed contracting the successful bidder and please ensure that all requirements and procedures befitting a public procurement contract are complied with.”

ACB has since gone to court to extend the Restriction Notice for another 90 days on Terrastone and for Mera not to continue with the construction of the office complex, and the matter is before Chief Resident Magistrate Court and it is expected to rule on August 12 2016

The graft-busting boss  denies any wrong doing, saying he does not know Sogecoa and parried Mera’s allegations that he wants it to be given the contract.

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