Connect with us
Advertisement

Why PPADB trades with shady companies

PPADB Executive Director Bridget John at one of her organisation’s briefings

The Public Assets and Disposal Board (PPADB) has explained why it continues doing business with companies which are implicated in alleged fraudulent awarding of tenders; and are currently subject of investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).


It has come to the attention of this publication that although PPADB introduced delisting measures as a way of curbing alleged corruption and unethical practices from contracting companies, some companies implicated in unethical practices have not been deregistered by government central procurement entity despite the PPADB being aware of investigations launched by DCEC.


The PPADB spokesperson Ditapole Chibua-Tsheboeng revealed that, PPADB cannot deter a company from tendering based on ongoing investigations by the DCEC since the allegations levelled against the company may prove to be untrue after the conclusion of the investigations.

She noted that action to suspend or delist is taken after a company had been found guilty following the investigation. Chibua-Tsheboeng says by virtue of being part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), DCEC forms part of the committee which is instrumental in either delisting or suspending companies.

 
According to the organization’s recent Annual Report (2013/2014) the Suspension and Delisting Disciplinary Committee was able to consider submissions from Procuring Entities (PEs) to either delist or suspend eight contractors. The committee considered the submissions and referred five of them back to the PE’s to provide additional information whilst one is still under consideration. The report further states that following the recommendation from the Suspension and Delisting Disciplinary Committee, the board delisted Kentz Botswana (Pty) Ltd, and warned Mylan Laboratories.


Weekend Post can authoritatively reveal that atleast three more companies namely (names withheld) are currently subject of DCEC investigation but do not appear in the report either for suspension or delisting from doing business with PPADB.


This publication has it on good authority that in August 2014, DCEC launched an investigation on the affairs of PPADB in which at least these three companies were implicated in a series of maladministration and dubious awarding of tenders. DCEC has entrusted two agents to start investigating the fraudulent award of tenders which also implicate a significant number of employees in the management of PPADB.  


The government crime busting agency was informed earlier last year about the bid rigging and fraudulent award of tenders at PPADB orchestrated by certain employees and a group of company directors to influence the outcomes of the tenders.


The three companies which are currently subject of investigations are being probed for fraud relating to winning tenders they do not qualify for through conspiring with some members of the PPADB staff to manipulate the bidding process. It has transpired that since 2009, the directors of these companies have consistently won the tenders by conniving with some of the PPADB staff members to exalt their companies into higher grades, therefore helping them to win more lucrative tenders they ordinarily do not qualify for.


PPABD has contractor grading ceiling in which companies are graded into different categories depending on the experience of the company, qualifications of its employees and equipments/assets which the company owns to determine the magnitude of tenders they can be awarded. In the construction category, which is currently under DCEC investigations the grades are; OC, A, B, C, D, and E. The threshold of tenders a company can be awarded falls under the following categories are; Grade OC (P1.5 million), Grade A (P4 million), Grade B (20 million), Grade C (P40 million), Grade D, (P85 million) while Grade E has unlimited threshold.


The primary mandate of PPADB is to adjudicate and award tenders for Central Government and any other institutions specified under the Act for the delivery of works, services and supplies related services. This is coupled with the registration and grading of contractors who so which to do business with government. This is to ensure that projects are prudentially managed to ensure value for money in the procurement and disposal of assets.


In an economy of Botswana’s size, government continues to be the main player and the biggest provider of business to private sector. Government expenditure through public procurement activities represents about 70% of the Gross Domestic Product. This essentially means the well functioning of the economy in Botswana solely rest on the efficiency and the integrity of its public procurement system when compared to most developed countries where public procurement account to a less percentage of up to 20 percent.


PPAD has partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) which supports governments in reforming their public procurement systems to ensure cost savings and better service delivery. OECD promotes efficient and effective public procurement system because it considers public procurement the backbone of a well-functioning government that ensures delivering quality services to the public.


In August 2012 PPADB entered into Memorandum of Understanding with Competition Authority (CA) and DCEC with the objective of ; regulating public procurement and deal with corruption and economic crime, preventing and addressing anti-competitive practices in the economy, and to remove constraints on the free play of competition in the market.


The purpose of the MoU was to strengthen cooperation amongst the three entities and facilitate timely sharing of relevant information to support the work of each party and to collectively contribute to the creation of a good business environment that inspires investor confidence.
According to the Contractor Code of Conduct, a contractor shall not submit false information during the tendering process in order to deceive the Board, a procuring or disposing entity or clients into believing that the contractor has capabilities and capacities to perform contracts which the contractor is not capable of doing.

Continue Reading

News

Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

Continue Reading

News

Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

News

Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!