Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rupiah explains his links with Philips

Rupiah explains his links with Philips
By Chibaula Silwamba and Patson Chilemba
Sat 24 July 2010, 04:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has confirmed that he was a consultant for Philips about 15 years ago but denied having influenced the Ministry of Health to award a contract to the firm this time around. And President Banda earlier said a bumper crop of maize is a bumper crop for everything in Zambia.

Speaking journalists at Lusaka International Airport before his departure to Uganda for the African Union (AU) heads of states summit, President Banda said he had influenced Philips to bring diagnostic equipment to Zambia.

“In fact I heard about it when this story broke and I am glad that you know something that in my private life, long before I was even a minister or a Vice-President, I was a consultant for Philips at that time but I am not now. So whatever took place and I have become very interested in it, it’s natural, because my name is being associated with it,” President Banda said.

“And what I hear Mr Vice-President George Kunda is that this is a contract for the maintenance of the equipment but I am just proud that I was the one that managed to influence the bringing in of the diagnostic equipment by Philips at that time – more than 12 or 15 years ago.

“So what is happening now is something, admittedly, I didn’t know anything about it until it broke in the newspapers. So obviously somebody didn’t read the story properly and you know Mr Mpombo is always looking for things to say about me and he said: ‘ha, this is a big story, I have caught him President Banda’. But I have nothing to do with it.”

On July 12, 2010, Mpombo questioned the government’s decision to award Philips a multi-million euro contract to cover the upgrade and maintenance of equipment in 71 government hospitals nationwide.

Commenting on the signing of the five-year contract between Philips and the Ministry of Health, Mpombo, who is Kafulafuta MMD member of parliament and former defence minister, challenged the government to explain the procurement procedures used in awarding Philips the contract.

“It has got strong connection to State House. So we would want to know the procurement system, was it followed? Was it single-sourcing?” Mpombo asked. “We want to challenge them; tell us whether the procedures were followed, or was it single-sourcing?”

Mpombo said the deal was suspect. Mpombo said such happenings usually led to the loss of public confidence in those who governed the country.

On July 16, 2010, highly-placed sources in the Ministry of Health have disclosed President Banda’s involvement in the Philips deal was not surprising because he has been known to represent that company before he became President.

The sources disclosed Mpombo’s questioning of the government’s decision to award Philips a 25 million euro contract to cover the upgrade and maintenance of equipment in 71 government hospitals was justified.

“I can tell you that it dates back to about year 2000. This was before His Excellency became part of the MMD government. Around that time, in his private capacity, His Excellency approached then permanent secretary Kashiwa Bulaya and introduced himself as the representative of Philips of Holland,” the source narrated.

“And he had picked up information, I don’t know from where, that we had signed a line of credit with the Dutch government, against which we could purchase diagnostic equipment, X-rays … using that line of credit.”

The sources disclosed that, thereafter, Bulaya obliged by making sure that all the diagnostic equipment for all the 72 districts was procured from Philips using that line of credit.

“Amongst yourselves, you can in fact end up challenging the Ministry of Health to deny that; in fact, around 2000-2001, the ministry bought all diagnostic equipment, particularly X-rays for all hospitals in Zambia from Philips upon that meeting between RB and the permanent secretary. So that’s probably the genesis of all this,” the source disclosed.

“You will also recall that as vice-president or as acting president the President hosted a meeting in his office of a delegation of Philips at which he appeared to be happy that Philips was ready to do business with Zambia, and the Ministry of Health in particular, and assured the delegation that all will be done to ensure that that relationship continued.”

But on July 21, 2010, health minister Kapembwa Simbao said he does not understand how President Banda should be the one to answer for the contracts under the Ministry of Health.

Addressing the press following Philips’ revelation that they had signed a five-year multi-million Euro contract with the Ministry of Health, Simbao said the ministry earlier this year signed a nine million Euro deal but it had nothing to do with President Banda.

He said he had never been called at any time by the President on this issue.

“If anywhere, somewhere the President is talking to someone else who is not me then I haven’t yet heard about it. I don’t know how really the President must be the person to answer for the things for the Ministry of Health. Let’s exonerate innocent people,” Simbao said.

And commenting on his trip to attend the African Union summit being hosted in Uganda, President Banda said he was concerned about terrorism there especially following two bombings recently after Somalia Islamist terrorist group, Al Shabaab, bombed and killed at least 74 people and threatened to continue the bombings in the region despite heightened security measures ahead of the summit,

“Naturally I think we should all be concerned when such things are happening but you know we are members of the AU and if our brother the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has convened a meeting of the AU all of us are going. I have checked with all my colleagues, South African President Jacob Zuma, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and all in the neighbourhood, all of us are going,” President Banda said.

“I think it is very important to stand by each other when there are such problems. We should all be concerned when such things have happened to our countries. It’s not a good thing.”

Al Shabaab claims that it bombed Uganda because the East African country has peace keepers in Somalia and has vowed to continue with its attacks.

In response to the July 11 twin bombings in Kampala, President Museveni declared to fight Al Shabaab.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home