Medicine supplier stumbles with tender challenge

Shapwa Kanyama

A Company supplying antiretroviral medication to the Ministry of Health and Social Services suffered a setback in the Windhoek High Court yesterday, when a tender challenge it lodged against the Central Procurement Board of Namibia, the health and finance ministers and a number of competitors was struck off the court roll.

Acting judge Collins Parker struck the case off the roll, and ordered the company Africure Pharmaceuticals Namibia to pay its opponents’ legal costs in the matter, after being informed that some of the respondents being sued by Africure have not been properly notified of the legal action being taken against them.

In an application filed at the High Court on 23 January, Africure asked the court to issue an urgent interdict stopping the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) and the minister of health and social services from going ahead with the implementation of procurement contracts with the successful bidders in a tender for the supply of antiretroviral (ARV) medication to the health ministry.

Africure wanted the interdict to be in effect while it proceeds to ask the court to review and set aside the CPBN’s selection of successful bidders in respect of a tender for the supply of ARVs to the ministry.

The company also wanted the court to declare that the CPBN is obliged to apply a directive from the minister of finance in December 2020 for suppliers based and operating in Namibia to be given preference for the procurement of goods.

In an affidavit filed at the court, Africure shareholder and board of directors chairperson Shapwa Kanyama alleged that the CPBN failed to consider the fact that his company is registered as a manufacturer of ARVs and is currently supplying such products to the health ministry.

Amon Ngavetene

Africure was awarded a contract to supply ARVs to the ministry in 2021, Kanyama said.

In the tender at the centre of Africure’s court challenge, the company offered to supply 19 types of ARV medication to the health ministry over a 12-month period at a total cost of N$342,7 million, inclusive of value-added tax.

The CPBN chose Africure as successful bidder for the supply of only two of the types of medication, at a total cost of about N$723 000. A competing bidder, Windhoek Medical Solutions, was selected to supply five of the types of medication, at a total cost of N$219,3 million.

Africure is not a registered local manufacturer of ARVs, and is not licensed to manufacture, pack and sell the medication that formed the subject of the tender in question, and as a result it could not benefit from a directive to prefer local manufacturers for the supply of pharmaceutical products, CPBN chairperson Amon Ngavetene said in an affidavit also filed at the court.

In its tender bid, Africure also stated that the ARVs it offered to supply to the health ministry would be procured from an Indian manufacturer, Mylan Laboratories, Ngavetene stated as well.

Africure does not have an automatic entitlement to receive procurement awards, he further said.

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