The Competition Authority will approach the High Court to decide on a case in which it alleges collusion and bid rigging by two companies awarded a split job of supplying sugar beans.
The Authority’s efforts to reverse a P120 million tender for sugar beans to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development was this week overruled by the Competition Commission on the basis that the matter was referred to the Commission outside the stipulated period. The Commission ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The tender, was awarded by the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) in a split tender to Creative Business Solution and Rabbit Group, into two tranches of P58,047,304 and P55, 956,600, respectively, between the two companies.
The entity tasked with monitoring, controlling and prohibiting anti-competitive trade or business practices in the economy of Botswana, Competition Authority accused, before the Competition Commission, the two companies, of colluding and rigging tenders worth millions of Pula for the supply of sugar beans to government deports countrywide.
The tenders were awarded by the Ministry of Local Government for the supply of 7,530 metric tonnes of sugar beans.
The ruling by the Commission of this ‘case within a case’ puts the brakes on the CA’s intention to compel the respondents to reverse the tender as they now have to first deal with the matter of having jurisdiction on the case, because of the timeframes for making a referral to the Commission. However the Authority is adamant that it has a firm case against the two companies.
The main case arose on the basis of two complaints alleging that the companies in question had colluded in their pricing for the tender.
However, the merits of the arguments of both parties have not been attended to on the basis that the Competition Commission has ruled that legal points with the respondents contending that the matter should be dismissed are enforceable citing that the Authority filed the case late, outside the prescribed date.
According to the Authority, after perusing the said documentation, especially tender documents submitted by some of the bidders, it was established that there were reasonable grounds of suspicion that there was collusion among some of the bidders to rig the tender. The tender was which was entered into by 16 enterprises, was split between Creative Business Solutions and Rabbit Group even though all the bidders had each tendered for the entire project.
The Authority said after seeking and obtaining a search warrant at the magistrate court in Gaborone in 2012, they found corroborative evidence after raiding the suspects’ offices.
The order of the Competition states that, “In terms of the Act when the Authority wrote to the PPADB on the 21st November 2012, as well as applying to the Magistrates court on 14th June 2013 for search and seizure warrants, this was furtherance of an ongoing investigation.”
“We find an investigation in this matter started on or about 21st November 2012 and a referral to the Commission should have been made by the 20th November 2013.
The Commission ruled that: “there has been a non referral and the Commission has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.” There was no order on the costs of the case.
Duncan Morotsi of the Competition Authority told WeekendPost that the Authority will appeal the matter at the High Court in the stipulated 14 day period as they believe they have a firm case and that they have not breached the allowed time period to make a referral.
Rabbit Group attorney, Mboki Chilisa, had earlier on during the case contended that the Competition Authority did not refer the matter to the Commission within one year of the opening of an investigation as required by section 39 of the Act. This he said rendered the application “woefully” out of time by a period in excess of 9 months.
The panel was made up of Tendekani Malebeswa, Gaylard Kombani, Dr Jay Salkin, Dr Selinah Peters and Mrs Thembisile Phuthego.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.