ACB investigates meter deal at ESCOM

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is investigating the awarding of a contract for the supply of meters at ESCOM.

ACB has moved in on the issue following revelations by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) that contracts were awarded to 11 companies linked to a single firm.

According to a letter by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence dated July 28 and sent to ACB, ESCOM in September 2016 advertised for restricted tendering of 185 000 meters.

The internal procurement committee at the electricity supplier said the U$1.5 million contract should be awarded to Shenzen Intermeter Company Limited.

“The Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority rejected the recommendation. In September 2017, ESCOM advertised an open tender for 193 000 meter boxes and 126 200 meters,” read the letter.

The tender was then split into 10 lots with four lots for meters and six for meter boxes.

According to HRDC, these lots were awarded to 11 companies which are linked to one person.

“Our investigations indicate that this linkage led to the cancellation of the tender.

“In 2018 ESCOM advertised for another tender this, too, was awarded to the [same person]. It is alleged this person was backed by powerful political forces and that the tender was manipulated,” the coalition said.

The revelations come days after the ACB arrested four people in connection to a procurement scandal at ESCOM.

The four are former ESCOM board chairperson Jean Mathanga, former Chief Executive Officer of ESCOM Mr. John Kandulu, former Director of Procurement Fanuel Nkhono, and Senior Procurement Officer at ESCOM Emilias Kandapo.

Their arrest followed a complaint that ESCOM made procurements worth K4 Billion without following proper procedures.