Friday, July 12, 2024

BPC a cesspool of corruption – court records

Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) cancelled a tender to procure meters cheaper from Botswana suppliers and is now pulling all stops to source the same meters at an inflated price from South African suppliers – it emerged in court last week.High Court Judge Modiri Letsididi two months ago stopped BPC from awarding the controversial selective P61 million tenders to South African companies pending a review application against the utility cooperation.

The BPC tender 3890/19 worth P61, 899,790.11 for the supply and delivery of metering units and accessories became the subject of a review application after it was challenged by a local supplier Drift In Investment Pty (Ltd).the local supplier was among four local companies which were initially recommended for the award. BPC however nullified the tender and instead went on a selective tendering process exclusive to South African manufactures, closing out the four citizen companies.In an apparent attempt to go around Justice Letsididi’s order, the BPC then went back to the drawing board and came up with tender No 4212/20 which sought to source the same metering units and accessories as the controversial tender no 3890/19, which has been halted by the High Court.In their latest application to stop the new tender (4212/20) Shadrack Kealeboga, the Managing Director of Drift In Investment in his replying affidavit accused the BPC of “broad daylight plunder of national resources”.

The sworn statement stops short of accusing the BPC leadership of taking kickbacks in exchange of awarding tenders to South African companies at inflated prices: “This is broad daylight plunder of national resources by the Respondent (BPC). As to what end we do not know, only the Respondent knows why it is so insistent to get the same product they cancelled the tender for at a much higher price from same entity when they were bided for at a much higher price. Nothing explains this rationale here.”Trying to tackle the BPC apparent fancy footwork to frustrate Justice Letsididi’s order, Drift In Investment’s managing Director argued in his affidavit that, “the tender numbers do not change anything as the merx sought is the same save for quantities. So, to suggest that since the tender numbers and quantities are different it is therefore a different tender is simply disingenuous of the respondent (BPC). It is on this basis that the nefarious ways of the Respondent should be put to stop by this court until the review application is finalized.”

Drift In Investment points out that BPC plans to source 15000 Single (1) phase PLC Split Smart Meters at P 11 477 000.00 while the Botswana supplier had tendered to supply 24 0000 of the same smart meters at P14 442 660.00.

Drift In argues that it would be supplying almost double the number of smart meters that BPC wants to source from the South Africa suppliers at a price difference of less than P 3 million. “This is a clear plunder of national resources systematically, and smacks of cesspool corruption. This is little wonder why the record is not availed. Furthermore, it is the Respondent’s contention that the decision was not made independently, there was interference from external parties….. As such more reason that the decision made was irrational, unlawful and unreasonable as external influence played a role.

When appearing before Lobatse High Court, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Botswana Power Corporation represented by Armstrong attorneys argued that the current tender brought on urgency is not tender 3890/19 but they are similar. It is a different tender that seeks to address material requirements elsewhere. In his submissions, Letlole of Letlole & Makgane Legal Practice who are representing Drift In Investment argued that a parallel tender was systematically planned and smacks of cesspool of corruption as evidenced by almost double quantity of one supplied through selective tendering.

Letlole said BPC had failed to provide the minutes where a decision to take the selective route was convened and that alone is a clear afterthought meant to mislead the court.He said tender number 4212/20 is introduced for the first time and is not Tender 3890/19 which is under a review.

BPC Acting Chief Executive Officer Edward Rugoyi stated in his affidavit that the new tender was “introduced for the first time as selective tender targeting bidders that are prequalified under Tender 3328/18. The said tender is complex, open to only manufacturers and it is yet to be awarded. The reasons for selective tendering of instant tender is for bidders who are prequalified for the Tender 3328/18 is to ensure that bidders supply meters that would ultimately feed into the main Smart Grid Solution that BPC is building.

’’Drift In Investment argued that there was absolutely no expertise needed for supply and delivery. The meters are commissioned by the respondent (BPC) engineers and expertise question is only used to mislead the court.“ The Invitation to Tender (ITT) did not call out for any expertise but needed only supply and delivery of specified products, a task local companies could do, as demonstrated by their bids which succeeded,” said Letlole.

He said the applicant has a mutual working relationship with Landis& G(SA) and indeed it confirmed that it did nothing except to supply and deliver the meters sought. Letlole said everything was an afterthought after an illegality was occasioned by cancelling the tender through an incompetent structure which had no jurisdiction and for unreasonable for a public body then issue it at an inflated price to SA companies. (manufactures)

Judge Letsididi is expected to deliver Judgment on the matter on the 23 February 2021.


Read this week's paper