NAMIBIA: Arrest warrant issued for Zim businessman; his son aged 5 years won US$68m tender

NAMIBIA: Arrest warrant issued for Zim businessman; his son aged 5 years won US$68m tender

By The Namibian

WINDHOEK: An arrest warrant has been issued for Zimbabwean businessman Cosmas Mukaratirwa, the father of the five-year-old whose company initially won a N$1,3 billion medical tender, after he failed to appear in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on another matter.

Mukatarirwa was due in court after he was summoned in a criminal case for supplying unregistered medicine worth N$650 000 to the government’s Central Medical Stores in 2019.

The charges are related to the contravention of section 18(1) of the Medicine and Related Substance Control Act of 2003, as amended.

Mukaratirwa has not been issued the summons personally because he has not been in the country for the past few months.

He is believed to be living in South Africa, where he was awarded the Zimbabwean business personality award at the 8th Zimbabwe Achievers Awards South Africa chapter ceremony, held in Johannesburg two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Mukaratirwa, whose company Cospharm Investments (Pty) Ltd, is purportedly majority owned by his five-year-old toddler, is still in the running to be awarded a pharmaceutical supply tender valued at N$1,3 billion.

This is despite that the company was allegedly supposed to be disqualified due to irregularities discovered during the bid review process earlier this year.

Zimbabwean businessman Cosmas Mukaratirwa

The tender for the supply of pharmaceutical medicine used in treating cancer and psychotic disorders is on hold due to court battles.

New information has emerged from the minutes of the bid evaluation committee (BEC) held on 10 February, which The Namibian has obtained.

According to these minutes, the committee has unearthed discrepancies, including the existence of two power of attorney forms, both dated 30 September 2022, within the bid documentation.

This revelation was made despite the share certificate indicating that the toddler owns 51% of the company, while Cosmas Mukaratirwa, a Zimbabwean national and the toddler’s father holds a 49% stake and also has power of attorney, as per the share certificate.

While signing various bidding documents, Mukaratiwa identified as a company representative rather than an owner.

The minutes highlight this discrepancy, particularly evident in documents like the undertaking to comply with relevant labour laws and the declaration of responsiveness criteria checklist.

Mukaratiwa allegedly further signed as both chairman and secretary on multiple occasions, a practice in conflict with fundamental corporate governance principles.

The committee also noted an instance of overwriting on the bid form, lacking an initial next to the correction, which has raised additional concerns about procedural adherence.

In response, the BEC, chaired by Magdalena Uuyuni, disqualified Cospharm and reassigned the items initially earmarked for the company to the bidder with the lowest responsive pricing among the remaining candidates.

When the case became public, Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) spokesperson Johanna Kambala only said the company was disqualified for failing to initial a correction on its bid form.

Cospharm was initially disqualified from the tender, but after a reconsideration application the board found merit in the bid document’s allowance for bidders to either type or hand-write their bids and accompanying documents.

When presented with the new evidence, Kambala said: “Kindly be informed that the bid in question is under sub judice in the High Court, hence CPBN is not able to comment on this bid pending the High Court ruling.”

The CPBN was taken to court in September by businessman Shapwa Kanyama via his company Africure Pharmaceutical.

The High Court ordered a halt of the tender award to Mukaratirwa until a review of the tender evaluation process concludes.

In September, Mukaratirwa’s lawyer, Matilda Jankie-Shakwa, asked whether there was any limitation on the age of a shareholder in terms of the Companies Act.

“The shareholder is just an investor who invests in a company which does business. It’s not the person who runs the business or even makes the decision.

“Any company will have a board of directors which makes decisions,” she said.