Competition Authority (CA), Director of Legal and Enforcement, Duncan Morotsi has warned that the alarming rate at which bidders collude among themselves may eliminate competition and harm other bidders’ ability to compete.
Speaking at a two-day capacity building workshop for Ministerial Tender Committees (MTC) organised by the Public Procurement and Public Assets Disposal Board (PPADB), Morotsi called for Ministerial Tender Committees to apply due diligence by probing company ownership in a effort to curb bid rigging which is swiftly becoming synonymous with the public procurement industry in Botswana.
Morotsi argued that there is a new trend in which companies owned by similar directors bid for the same tender. “You will find that of all the four companies which have bided for the tender, all of them are directors in all the companies which effectively render the bid uncompetitive,” he said.
He further observed that cross directorship is a problem because it is counterproductive to Competition Authority policy which government adopted in order to encourage healthy competition and to protect small businesses.”
Morotsi said what makes matters even worse is the fact that, more often than not, collusion is both from within the procuring entities and from outside making it difficult to detect and prevent. Morotsi observed that if officers assist bidders to win tenders, it would even become difficult for either Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) or CA to investigate.
Morotsi was of the view that the CA policy is against big companies dominating the markets as it seeks to make the playing field equal by protecting the small companies or contractors.
Morotsi noted that when CA finds out that some tenders are not awarded fairly, Ministerial Tender Committees point to their lack of knowledge on evaluating bidders as the justification. Some participants contended that there is a need to ensure regular staff training on bid-rigging preventions.
It was revealed that bid rigging or collusive tendering occurs when businesses, that would otherwise be expected to compete, secretly conspire to raise prices or lower the quality of goods or services for purchasers who wish to acquire products or services through a bidding process.
Morotsi said public and private organisations often rely upon a competitive bidding process to achieve better value for money therefore there is need for those who award tenders to ensure that bidders conform to CA policy.
Bid rigging has become a hot potato in the procurement industry in Botswana as it is viewed as harmful since it diminishes public confidence in the competitive process, and undermines the benefits of a competitive marketplace.
However some employees who form part of Ministerial Tender Committee say government relies solely on the goodwill of the members of these committees because they are senior employees without giving them incentives for the participation in the committees.
They suggested that there is need to give them incentives so that they do not become susceptible to bribery from bidders. They also pointed out that, unlike the PPADB, DCEC and CA which their duties are in line with proper tendering and procurement, members of the ministerial committees have their core duties. It is against this background that they argued that proper evaluation at MTC level is always below par because of their commitments to their core duties.
PPADB had invited different stakeholders among them members of Ministerial Tender Committees, DCEC and CA to discuss matters relating to public procurement. The two day capacity building workshop ended on Friday.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.