FORMER Oxford University scholar and one of the country’s finest academics, Professor Arthur Mutambara, is accused of defrauding the Global Fund of US$191 000 after his Mutambara Science and Technology Foundation submitted a heavily plagiarised consultancy assignment.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Mutambara, who was the country’s deputy Prime Minister during the inclusive government era between 2009 and 2013, was awarded two contracts by the Global Fund, a non-profit organisation, whose headquarters are in Switzerland, for consultancy work.
In an investigation report titled Supplier Wrongdoing and Global Fund Non-Compliance with Procurement Regulations, The Mutambara Foundation and the Global Fund Sourcing Department, the Global Fund accuses the foundation and Mutambara of misrepresenting plagiarised work as its own original work product.
The report, dated December 16, 2016, reveals that for Contract 1, the Mutambara Foundation was paid US$115 000 in consultancy fees for four written documents.
The Office of the Inspector-General’s (OIG) review of these documents determined that a substantial portion of the written work was not the original work of the Mutambara Foundation and that the original sources of the work were not credited.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Mutambara said the issues raised in the report were resolved internally.
“This is a three-year-old false and malicious report which was internally resolved with the Global Fund CEO Mark Dybul. I was not even involved in the performance of the work. The report is being brought up and circulated three years later by political opponents to tarnish my image, in this election year,” Mutambara said.
According to the report, the sourcing department of the Global Fund in December 2013, entered into Contract 1 with the Mutambara Foundation for a project entitled, “A Technology Solution to Tackle Thefts, Diversion and Counterfeit Health Products in Africa”.
A manager in the Global Fund Sourcing Department is accused of awarding the contract to the Mutambara Foundation without going through a competitive tender process. The total value of Contract 1 was US$155 000, which constituted consultancy fees of US$115 000 and US$40 000 in travel expenses.
Under Contract 1, Mutambara submitted four written documents for which he was paid for and they include: an interim report titled An Overview of Detection Technology Platforms, August 6, 2014; a PowerPoint interim report presentation titled An Overview of Detection Technology Platforms, August 7, 2014; a final project report, A Technology Solution to Tackle, [sic] Thefts, Diversions, and Counterfeit Health Products in Africa, December 10, 2014; and a PowerPoint document titled The Detection Technology, Deployment Algorithm, December 10, 2014 (Deployment Algorithm).
The investigation report states that a manager in the sourcing department had told the OIG that they questioned whether the Mutambara Foundation were authors of the submitted reports under the contract, after which the OIG ran both the interim and final report through plagiarism detection software.
“The software showed that 56% of the text in the interim report and 43% of the text in the final report had been plagiarised from sources publically available on the internet. In addition, the OIG checked both the interim report and the final report against sources publically available on the internet and the information that was provided by the sourcing department to the Director of the Mutambara Foundation as background for this project,” reads the investigations report.
“This additional manual check confirmed the findings of the plagiarism software. The same finding also applied to the Participant Slides and the Deployment Algorithm. The text, charts and images in 46 of the 80 substantive slides in the participant slides and 22 of the 75 slides in the Deployment Algorithm were copied directly from other sources without credit . . . The vast majority of the plagiarised material was taken wholesale from a 2013 copyright-protected book that covers issues related to the global problem of substandard and falsified medicines.
The book is available for free download on the internet.”
The Global Fund further says that although given the opportunity to respond, the Mutambara Foundation refused to cooperate with the OIG investigation. The Mutambara Foundation also did not respond to the OIG’s finding that the work product submitted under Contract 1 was plagiarised.
The investigation report also states that in June 2015, approximately six months after the completion of Contract 1, the sourcing department awarded Contract 2 without a competitive process to the director of the Mutambara Foundation personally rather than to the Mutambara Foundation.
The objective of the consultancy Contract 2 was to provide support services to the Global Steering Committee for Quality Assurance of Health Products, says the report.
Mutambara is said to have received a pre-payment of US$11 500 and a travel advance of US$40 000 for Contract 2. An additional US$50 000 was paid after the interim report in August 2014. The final installment of US$53 500 was paid after submission of the final report and the deployment algorithm in December 2014.
“The OIG also ran this report through plagiarism detection software and found that 25% of the report was copied from sources publically available on the internet. In addition, the OIG manually checked the final project report against sources available on the internet, which confirmed the findings of the plagiarism software,” reads the report.
The investigation noted that high consultancy rates were paid for the plagiarised work, meaning the Global Fund did not get value for money.