The Centre for Public Integrity, a Mozambican NGO, said that the direct award of contracts for the acquisition of goods and services by the state represents a risk of corruption and misuse of funds.
“With the direct award contracting applied in the current [pandemic] context, there are serious risks of overcharging, conflicts of interest or influence trafficking in public procurement,” said a statement from the Center for Public Integrity (CIP).
According to a document that the head of state, Filipe Nyusi, submitted to parliament after the first four months of a state of emergency in Mozambique, the country spent 68 billion meticais (€805 million) on contractors, suppliers of goods and services directly contracted, as one of the most flexible and rapid measures in the face of the pandemic.
For the CIP, this type of contract entails high risks of corruption in public procurement, in addition to being costly for the state coffers.
“Corruption in the procurement of social sectors such as health can greatly weaken the government’s capacity to respond to Covid-19 in the country and put human lives, especially women and children, at-risk, thus violating human rights,” the document added.
Data from audits of the Ministry of Health’s purchases in 2017 indicate that products acquired through direct contracts are up to 90% more expensive than the reference price on the international market, said the NGO.
In the education sector, the plan to return to face to face classes includes the construction and rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation systems in more than 600 schools throughout the country.
The CIP recommended public tenders whenever it is not an emergency project, arguing that this ensures greater transparency.
Mozambique, which is experiencing a new state of emergency, currently has 2,914 registered cases and 19 deaths due to Covid-19.
Among African countries that have Portuguese as their official language, Angola leads in the number of deaths and Equatorial Guinea in the number of cases. Angola registers 88 deaths and 1,906 cases, followed by Equatorial Guinea (83 deaths and 4,821 cases), Cabo Verde (35 deaths and 3,179 cases), Guinea-Bissau (33 deaths and 2,149 cases) and Sao Tome and Principe (15 deaths and 885 cases).
In Africa, there are 25,618 confirmed deaths in more than 1.1 million infected in 55 countries, according to the most recent pandemic statistics on the continent.