By Nalucha Nganga Ziba Country Direction, ActionAid Zambia
The revelations of the Public Accounts Committee hearing on the US$17 million drug supply scandal makes a sad hearing. Indeed, corruption and mismanagement of public resources (Taxpayers money) in our country has reached pervasive levels that affect the State’s ability to provide better public services such as education, healthcare, sanitation, and security.
It is clear that the purchase of defective medical supplies was a well-planned corrupt syndicate of the Ministry of Health, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, and Zambia Medical Stores. We, however, want to make exceptional chide for the Ministry of Health as a principal government agent in the transaction for not following most procurement procedures ardently due to suspected corruption in the transaction. It is disheartening to see that the government institution mandated to safeguard the life and health of Zambian people like the Ministry of health has continued making unpleasant headlines regarding misapplication and misappropriation of public resources in our country.
We are perplexed to understand that the Ministry of Health did not only over-look most procurement bidding process in awarding HoneyBee the contract but further went ahead through the Medical Stores Limited and sanctioned the distribution of defective medical supplies with the full knowledge of them being defective while Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority expeditiously and suspiciously issued the license to HoneyBee in days just to facilitate a corrupt deal.
The Honeybee Corrupt Medical Supply Scandal is a crime against humanity as the lives and safety of most Zambians have been put at serious risk at the expense of the flamboyant lifestyle of the few selfish individuals who have refused to live within their means. We wonder how many patients have been denied survival on their sickbed for using defective medical supplies. This could just one of the corrupt scandals happening in most public institutions.
As we have always stated, Corruption is not just a development issue but also a social issue as it aggravates inequality and injustice and undermines stability. Envisioning to safeguard the lives of every Zambia and attaining economic development with high corrupt levels is like attempting to fetch water using the basket and expecting it to be full.
We would, therefore, like to call on the President not to cast a blind eye and play a deaf ear on the ever-increasing mismanagement of public resources and corrupt incidences in the country by ensuring perpetrators of financial crimes regardless of their social status and political affiliation are prosecuted.
The ministry of Health over the years has continued to make handlines in scandalous mismanagement of public resources and corruptions issues and we are therefore calling on the president to act and drop the Minister of Health and his two Permanent secretaries for presiding over corrupt transactions which does not only risk the lives of Zambians but impede donor/bilateral confidence. In the same vein, we are calling on the Donor community to take a keen interest in the happenings at the Ministry of Health as they are also important stakeholders.
We would like to further reiterate the call from many stakeholders to have the procurement mandate withdrawn from the Ministry of Health by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority with immediate effect until the ministry puts its house in order. The Law Enforcement Agents like the Anti-Corruption Commission must also prove their relevance to this country especially in this case with overwhelming evidence of corruption in all transactions. It is our sincere hope that with yesterday’s PAC hearing revelations, Justice will prevail for the Zambian people and that the case will not die a natural death like many other cases.