BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Reliance Trading Company and Africa Commercial Agency, which supplied uniforms to the Immigration Department, have written Malawi Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe offering to negotiate and settle the matter once and for all.
In letters to the AG that we have seen, the two firms say they want to settle the matter amicably to save taxpayers money while ending a protracted standoff that benefits no one.
The two firms dragged the Immigration Department to court demanding over MK53 billion payment for items that they supplied to the government in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
However, lawyers Nampota and Company acting on behalf of the two firms in a letter to Silungwe dated June 7, 2021 says the two firms want to resolve the matter out of court amicably.
“We refer to the above matter and we wish to advise that our client has instructed us to approach you, on a without prejudice basis, with a view to explore possibilities of discussing this matter out of court amicably,” reads the letter signed by Alexius Nampota.
Nampota says settling the matter out of court would lead to a speedy conclusion and “avoid costs before it proceeds to trial,”.
“It is our clients’ view that if we proceeded with the negotiated amicable out of court discussions, we will achieve a speedy and less costly result as opposed to the manner in which we are proceeding now,” says Nampota in the letter.
Silungwe wrote to Nampota confirming receipt of the request and offer for negotiations.
“My office received the hard copy of the letter. We shall formally respond to the letter,” said Silungwe.
The two companies’ offer resonates with former AG Kalekeni Kaphale’s strategy for resolving the matter.
Kaphale last year indicated that government was willing to negotiate with the two suppliers—an approach that would save billions in taxpayer’s money.
Both ACB and Fiscal Police have in the past failed to establish any wrong doing in the award of the uniforms contracts at the Immigration Department as the firms followed all bidding processes that the department had put in place.
The Public Procurement and Disposal Assets Authority (PPDA)—formerly called called Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP)—which vets public sector contracts—also cleared the contracts long time a go.
Yet, in his letter to ACB last month to investigate the Immigration uniforms deal, AG Silungwe–without offering any proof–accused people at ACB, Fiscal Police, Public PPDA of being compromised.
Silungwe described the contracts as “suspicious transactions with very ridiculous contract documents, leading to a belief that the said officers were compromised in their execution of duties.
The AG wrote ACB three times on the issue “for urgent attention” in a frenzy of communications coated in aggressive tones.
According to the letter to ACB ,Silungwe says the contracts were not duly approved by the Secretary to the Treasury and that officers at the department over-committed the government to huge sums of money which was not appropriated by the National Assembly.
“We note that all the said contracts bear the same contract number with a mere ‘No objection’ from PPDA [Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority] masquerading as an authority to enter into such contracts… We find these transactions to be very suspicious,” the letter reads.
The two firms contend that they have written communications with the Immigration Department showing his the firms delivered the goods and the department acknowledged receipt and was able to make part payments.