Finance Ministry statement on controversial Covid-19 tender

George Guvamatanga

PERMANENT Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, George Guvamatanga, has been in the eye of a storm amid reports he authored a letter to the Health Ministry pushing for the payment of funds to suppliers of Covid-19 equipment.

Tellingly, one of the suppliers of the equipment was Drax Zimbabwe International, which is linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son Collins. Below is the letter written by Guvamatanga on the matter.

I write with reference to your various correspondences regarding the contracts your Ministry signed with Drax Consult SAGL for the supply and delivery of medicines and surgical sundries to the Government of zimbabwe.

As you are aware, a meeting was held between the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development and that of Health and Child Care in which a representative of Drax Consult was invited to participate to discuss the contract on the supply of COVID-19 requirements as well as the suspension of the USD20 million contract and the cancellation of the USD40 million contract with the same company.

One of the outcomes of the meeting was that Government did not accept the prices that had been quoted on items under the above-mentioned contracts and Drax Consult was advised to engage Natpham to review the prices downwards.

In this regard, the exceptional authorisation for the release of a consignment of COVID-19 equipment which was being held at the R. G Mugabe International Airport as advised in my letter of 8 May 2020 was based on the urgent need for Tests kits in the country.

The understanding was that payment would not only be made upon submission of revised prices, as well as upon confirmation of delivery of the outstanding COVID-19 equipment which the supplier had advised was still in transit.

However, Treasury is still awaiting submission by your Ministry of the reviewed prices schedule and confirmation of receipt of the outstanding COVID-19 equipment.

Regarding the suspension of the USD20 million and the cancellation of the USD40 million contracts, Treasury’s position still stands and will only be reviewed once the fiscal capacity for repayment has improved, review of the pricing structure has been done and proper procurement procedures are observed and finalised in consultation with Treasury.

Your Ministry should, therefore, proceed as guided and urgently finalise all the outstanding issues which are now long overdue.