Tuesday, October 20, 2020

BPC accused of scorning Citizen empowerment

Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) executive management is being accused of taking tenders from citizen companies and giving them to their South African competitors.

This is after the power utility annulled a tender won by Botswana companies and subsequently awarded it to a South African company.The BPC tender worth P61, 899,790.11 for the supply and delivery of metering units and accessories is now the subject of a legal review.

Drift In, one of the four citizen companies which were recommended for the award of the tender which was later nullified and given to a South African company is challenging the decision in court.The BPC Tender Technical Board had recommended that the executive committee; Procurement and Tender Committee approve the award of the tender to Drift In (Pty) Ltd, Abiasa Investments, SK Agencies and Arm Roy Investment, all citizen companies.The recommendation was however set aside by the BPC Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the General Manager Transmission and Distribution the General Manager Generation and Senior Legal Advisors who are part of the Executive Committee (Procurement and Tender Committee).Documents passed to Sunday Standard, reveal that after rejecting the recommendation to award the tender to citizen companies, the BPC EXCO proposed a selective tender restricted to South African manufacturers who had already been pre-qualified as prospective Suppliers of the Meter Data Management System (MDMS).

In a document dated 11th May 2020 the executive committee (procurement and Tender Committee) stated that during its meeting it resolved to approve and sent to SA manufactures companies a Selective Tender. Drift In lawyers, Letlole and Makgane Legal Practice, have written to BPC management questioning the decision.“Our client participated in the above tender which was floated by yourself sometimes in January 2020. Iinformation at our disposal shows our clients was best recommended in at least two facets of the bid for the award of the tender to supply and deliver single phase split smart meters and Customers interface Units,” reads the letter.

The lawyers added that: “We also hold information that the recommendations were not approved but were annulled since you preferred select tender which would be more subject to your whims in so far as selecting whom you want the tender to go.”Drift In lawyers state that: “The above position to annul the tender simply because your preferences were not met during open tender which had gone through all the process and around to change goal posts is not only appalling but irrational, illegal and unreasonable. Yours is a public institution funded by public funds and is duty bound to act in a fair transparent and independent manner.”

The lawyers argue that there was no basis for “annulling an open tender and replacing it with a select tender which selection is limited to the very same manufactures with whom our client had enlisted as his supplier and substituting a local company to its foreign suppliers.”“This is appalling to say the least and rails against the sprit and ethos of local empowerment. And this is no strange to yourselves as in the recent past you made similar overtures,” the lawyers said.They further added that “dealing with the issue of review at court, we wish to plead with you to halt assurance /processing of select tender bidding pending finalization of this matter.”

The Open Tender was closed on the 05th February 2020.

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The Telegraph October 21

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 21, 2020.