Inflated Prices For PPE Procured By Govt Questionable

Government has lifted the suspension of Personal Protective Equipment procurement and ordered the payment and release of the consignment with inflated prices paying US$987 720 for a consignment worth US$325 000 locally.

The consignment is in respect of a contract given under number NAT DP 04/2020 and contains masks, overalls and test kits.

A leaked May 8 memo signed by Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga, and addressed to then Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Agnes Mahomva, gave a special dispensation for Drax to deliver its consignment worth US$987,720.

“I write with reference to my letter dated April 28, 2020 advising your ministry, under legal guidance to engage all suppliers for the supply of and delivery of medicines and surgical sundries with a view of invoking force majeure provisions, in order to terminate the said contracts so as to mitigate against escalation in the amount of debt to the said suppliers which treasury  is clearly now not going to be able to meet,” Guvamatanga wrote.

“However, Treasury is made to understand that the said suppliers had already shipped some items currently held at Robert Mugabe International Airport for clearance.

“In this regard and given the urgent need of test kits, Treasury is hereby exceptionally authorizing the release of the said consignment guided by the contract,” he further wrote.

The letter stated that the position of suspending PPE procurement remained in place but was lifted for a ‘special case’.

Government will fork out US$ 90 per overall with 3 740 units having been supplied and totalling to US$336 600 as compared to a maximum price of US$20 per overall being charged locally, a general survey has revealed.

The highest price for a test kit locally is going for US$ 15 after a rigorous price comparison in Harare yet government has been charged a staggering US$34 for 15 000 units totalling to US$510 000.

The quotation stated that face masks (N-95) were charged US$28, yet local prices for a similar product range from between US$2 to US$5.

Government was therefore billed US$987 720 that Guvamatanga approved but our investigations revealed that the maximum possible price from local suppliers stands at US$325 000.

Prices are inflated by more than 200 percent further exposing the rot obtaining in the procurement of emergency COVID-19 response supplies.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son is alleged be involved in the scandal as he is the one directly linked to the company that has been paid the inflated prices by Treasury.

The company at the centre of the scandal is Drax International, which is owned by Delish Nguwaya, a business partner to  Collins Mnangagwa.

Drax International does not appear to have gone through a tender process to land the deals with NatPharm, raising questions over how the company got the preferential treatment.

As the leaked document spread on social media, government spokesperson Ndabaningi Mangwana said the Finance Ministry would be issuing a statement on the matter.

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