Competition Authority convinced that winners have colluded
The Competition Authority is accusing before the Competition Commission, two companies, Creating Business Solution and Rabbit Group of colluding and rigging tenders worth millions of Pula for the supply of sugar beans to government deports countrywide.
In papers before the commission,Competition Authority says the application was made following two complaints which were recieved and investigated by the applicant concerning TENDER NO PR;8/6/2/11 (v) that was issued by the Ministry of Local government through the Department of Local government Finance and Procurement Services, Food Relief Services Division,for supply of 7530 metric tonnes of sugar beans.
“The complainant had alleged that two companies in response to the Tender had colluded in terms of pricing.The complainant,said he had observed a pattern in pricing by atleast three groups of tenders,whose prices were too close to each other’s such as to raise suspicion of collusion,” reads part of the Compeition authority’s founding affidavit.
The authority said that after perusing the said documentation,especially tender documents submitted by some of the tendering companies they established that there were reasonable grounds of suspicion and that there was collusion between some of the bidders to rig the tender.The tender was which was entered into by 16 enterprises was split between Creating Business Solution and Rabbit Group even though all the bidders had each tendered to the entire project.
The Authority said after obtaining a search warrant at the magistrate court in Gaborone in 2012 they found corroborative evidence after raiding the suspects’ offices.
“The outcome of the analyses is that the 1st and 2nd respondents had agreed to divide the tender amongst themselves along geographic lines where one party would supply predominantly the deports in the northern side of the country and the other in the south” argues Competition Authority, further adding that ‘the agreement also entails sharing the value of the tender equally between the respondents.’
The authority continues to say the pricing pattern shows a systematic and deliberate intention to rig the bid. “When it comes to the tender prices between 1st respondents and 2nd respondents, the difference is a consistent P200.00 for each depot,” says Competition authority.
They further said by engaging in the collusive tendering demonstrated above the respondents have frustrated government policy of improving competitive method of procuring goods and services from the private sector as a means of ensuring optimal use of national resources.
The companies refuted the claims by the Competition Authority saying they were devoid of truth, malicious and defamatory.
Rabbit Group attorney, Mboki Chilisa, 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.
He also argued that the matter was not referred to the Commission by the chief executive officer, who is the executive secretary of the Competition Authority as it is a requirement under section 39 (2) of the Act.
“Any suggestion of collusion or rigging is a figment of the Authority’s imagination. There is no way that two out of sixteen entities who submitted tenders two can rig the outcome of a tender process or submit collusive bids, with a view to ensure that government pays more than it ought to have paid for goods or services,” posits Chilisa who furthered a series of technical flaws on the application.
However, attorney Abel Modimo representing the Competition Authority stated that all the raised points of law were devoid of merit or substance in law.
Modimo pointed out that the raising of points of law at this stage of the proceedings was an abuse of the process of the Commission, pleading with the Commission to dismiss all the points with costs.
The Commission of five panel of commissioners, adjourned the case pending the decision of whether the merits of case should be heard or not.
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.