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HomeLocal NewsIT’S ALL LIES, SAYS BELEMU - says TFM contract was not fraudulent nor signed in...

IT’S ALL LIES, SAYS BELEMU – says TFM contract was not fraudulent nor signed in secrecy, insists govt will lose US$40m for convenience termination of contract

By NATION REPORTER

It is all lies that the US$100 million TFM Holdings contract was signed in secrecy because there had been rigorous back-and-forth correspondence between the contractor and Government prior to the signing of the deal by the UPND administration in May this year, Dr Jim Belemu has said.

And Dr Belemu has charged that had there been any trace of fraudulence and secrecy in the procurement of the TFM contract, the Ministry of Health would not have invoked the convenience clause in the termination of the contract because of the cost implications.

Dr Belemu, the TFM Holdings representative in Zambia says it is not unfair but uncalled for that the Permanent Secretary for Technical Services, Professor Lackson Kasonka has elected to mislead the nation through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the contracted was shrouded in secrecy when the deal was approved by the Attorney General, Kabesha Mulilo, the Secretary to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa and the Ministry of Health itself.

Breaking his silence over the TFM Holding contract saga, Dr Belemu said it was an act of impunity and utter lawlessness for a senior government official to declare that there would be no cost implications to cancel the US$100 million TFM Holdings contract for government’s convenience.

He said in an interview that there had been back-and-forth correspondence between the Ministry of Health and the contractor before the contract was finally signed.

Dr Belemu said it was important for senior government officials such as Prof Kasonka to exhibit integrity in the management of serious government matters.   

He said no Zambian should forget how the health care system was stressed during the Covid-19 peak where almost every family lost a loved one or relative. 

He stated that the procurement and eventual signing of the TFM Holdings contract was strictly within the law and that had there been anything wrong, government would not have proceeded to award the contract.

He wondered why government would choose to terminate a contract it believed was fraudulent using the own convenience clause which had cost implications when it could have chosen to cancel the deal using the fraudulent clause.

“It is an act of impunity and lawlessness for a senior government official to insinuate and mislead the nation that the termination of the TFM Holdings contract which was dully awarded has no cost implications when the clause of terminations prescribes costs on the part of government. 

“Why would the Ministry of Health decide to terminate our contract using the convenience clause if the contract was fraudulently awarded? There was rigorous back-and-forth correspondence between government and the contractor before the contract was signed on 4th, May, 2022. It is therefore not right and fair for Prof Kasonka to insinuate fraudulency in a contract that was transparent and clean,” Dr Belemu said.

Dr Belemu stated that TFM and government had followed all the procedures and that was why the Attorney General, the Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Healthy approved the project.

He said while the negotiations for the contract were started when the Patriotic Front (PF) was in government, the project was to be reconfigured by the UPND government so that the hospitals could become fully fledged. 

Dr Belemu said when government started considering terminating the contract, they wrote a letter of intent which TFM has rejected in their response because the correspondence was quoting clauses that were not in the contract.

“Government wrote a letter of intent to terminate the contract but were quoting clauses that were not in the contract. As TFM, we objected because the letter did not contain any clauses from the contract… and for six months, there was no correspondence until end of November when the government terminated the contract using the convenience clause. As a contractor, we accepted the termination and all that is remaining is computing the costs that come with the clause government has used to cancel the contract. Government should just look the clause it has invoked to terminate the contract and seek interpretation of the cost implications,” Dr Belemu said.   

He said it was unfortunate that a genuine, transparent and legally awarded contract had become a subject of gossip from people who were expected to have a full understanding of the project.

He however stated that the gossip about the TFM from Prof Kasonka was as a result of personal feeling because it was not possible for such a big contract to be secretly signed without the notice of those who were to eventually process the payments.  

Dr Belemu said as a former civil servant himself with the full understanding of how government operated, he did not see anything fraudulent about the TFM contract than engaging into gossip.

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