COVID-19 looting spree: Government approves US$1 million for PPEs… prices inflated by over 200%

  • Govt pays US$987 720
  • Locally such covid19 PPEs cost US$325 000
  • Supplier makes a profit margin of over US$662 720

GOVERNMENT has exclusively lifted the suspension of Protective Clothing Equipment procurement and ordered the payment and release of a ‘special’ consignment with inflated prices ballooning to almost US$1 million, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

The consignment is in respect of a contract given under number NAT DP 04/2020 and contains masks, overalls and test kits to company called Drax International which is allegedly linked to one of presidented Emmerson Mngagawa’s sons, Sean.

The government, through Finance ministry permanent secretary George Guvamatanga, made a dramatic U-Turn and lifted the suspension of PPE procurement citing that the urgent need of the contents of the consignment.

In a letter dated May 8 and seen by Zim Morning Post, Guvamatanga gave a directive to the then Ministry of Health secretary Agnes Mahomva to facilitate exceptional release of the funds.

“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.

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

Zim Morning Post made a local  market price survey in comparison with the prices government is payng to the suppliers and established  that the companies are inflating prices.

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

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 totaling to US$510 000.

According to the document 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.

This means the prices were inflated by more than 200 percent further exposing the rot obtaining in the procurement of emergency COVID-19 response supplies.

Interestingly, last month Guvamatanga raised a red flag over the irregular procurement of emergency COVID-19 medical supplies and sundries by parastatals.