China Jiangsu International Botswana and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) are headed for a showdown.
The Chinese company threatens to take the intelligence agency to court over allegations it is involved in massive corrupt activities.
This emerges in a new case in which the Chinese company is challenging the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB)’s decision to award a tender for the construction of Moshupa Hospital to its rival Zhengtai Group Botswana.
According to papers before Lobatse High Court’s Justice Jenifer Dube, China Jiangsu also demands that the Ministry of Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development “cause the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security retract a Savingram dated 8th February 2019 in which unfounded and false allegations and or/injurious falsehoods are being paddled that Applicant has been involved in massive corrupt practices that threaten national security of Botswana.”
The savingram in question informed addressed to Permanent Secretaries states that “Intelligence gathered by this Directorate has revealed that China Jiangsu International has been involved in massive corrupt activities that threaten national security of this country.”
According to the court papers, Jiangsu tendered for a Works Contract for the Procurement of Proposed New Primary Hospital at Moshupa Tender No.WOR 7/6/8 and it was recommended for the awarding of the tender only for it to be awarded to another Chinese company, Zhengtai Group Botswana.
Jiangsu demands among others that the court determines whether the PPADB and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development were correct in having it excluded “from participating in the tender on the basis of baseless and unfounded falsehoods perpetrated by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services…”
The new case comes amid another one in which China Jiangsu Botswana temporarily interdictedPublic Procurement Assets and Disposal Board (PPADB) from implementing its decision to withdraw a tender worth more than P1 billion. China Jiangsu International had won a tender for the Maun Water reticulation project to the value of P1.5 billion but PPADB later intended to award it to Zhengtai Group Botswana following a savingram issued to the Ministry of Lands and Housing that the company was involved in corrupt activities.
In his founding affidavit, the Managing Director at China Jiangsu Botswana Cui Wanglin said it is clear and obvious for all that there is a consistent pattern by functionaries of the Ministry to “favour Zhengtai Group Botswana and to legitimise such through official means with a poor attempt to cloth such favours with an element of national security and try to put it beyond the realm of common law review.”
“I honestly and genuinely believe that all such is done in order to eschew the Applicant China Jiangsu Botswana in favour of the 4th respondent (Zhengtai Group Botswana) and for the reasons unknown to Applicant and such is left to anyone to guess. I honestly and genuinely believe that the conduct of the Respondents (Attorney General, PPADB and Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development) is not only irreprehensible but unlawful and illegal in the extreme to use the provisions of a Security Act for commercial gain and to the serious detriment of the Applicant,” said Wanglin.
He added that: “The conduct of the Respondents is equally contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, the Regulations and the entire framework of Procurement Law. The conduct of the Respondent has been illegally to frame the rules of the game and change such on a continuous basis to target the Applicant on untested allegations of massive corruption.”
Jiangsu said it was aware that bribes and corruption are an antithesis of an open tender and transparent procurement system in which the playing field is level being fair and equitable treatment of all contracts which matters are clearly spelt out in the Procurement Law.
Wanglin said his company “has not engaged in such conduct as alleged or at all and in a poor attempt to remove the decision as to whether or not a party is guilty of corrupt practices as corruption being defined by law” adding that “I wish to state clearly beyond doubt that Applicant has not been involved in massive corruption as alleged or at all and the allegations were made to benefit the 4th respondent( Zhengtai Group Botswana).He reminded DIS and the Attorney General “Corruption is the primary mandate of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime(DCEC) adding that “None of the functionaries of Applicant(China Jiangsu International Botswana) has ever been convicted let alone charged for corruption or bribery by any court of competent jurisdiction and none of the directors of the applicant are being or have been investigated and charged or convicted of bribery or corruption.”He said his company was the lowest priced technically compliant bidder and therefore in terms of the ITT ought to have been awarded the tender.
He further stated that his company was recommended and denied the tender on the basis “false claims by DIS comprising as it does of injurious falsehoods and defamatory matter.” Wanglin noted that the process of blacklisting contractors is one that conducted by the PPADB in which contractors are given a hearing.
Thus he approached the High Court seeking that that PPADB “be interdicted and restrained from signing a contract as contemplated by Provisions of the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act and be restrained and interdicted execution of the works and/or entering into a contract for the works and the Invitation to Tender following a cooling off period which is about to expire.”
The company said following the evaluation and adjudication of the tender, the same was awarded to Zhengtai Group Botswana and the decision thereof duly published in the Dailynews April 24 by the 1st Respondent as part of its Board decision.
“On the same day, the Applicant (China Jiangsu) sent correspondent to the functionaries of the 3rd Respondent ( Ministry of Infrastructure) for a debriefing in order to understand and appreciate the reason for the Applicant not being successful, the same being the practice of the 1st Respondent (PPADB) and in accordance with Operating Manuals,” said Wanglin.
He said Jiangsu was given the date of 2nd May 2019 to attend the de-briefing and attempted to bring the date forward within 10 day of the cooling period in order to avoid a situation where 3rd respondent and 4th respondent might enter into a contract making the whole exercise of the review an empty shell which serve no purpose.
“The functionaries of 3rd respondent stood their ground on the date of 2nd May 2019 and on account if day, including weekend, today is the ninth day and therefore upon close of the tenth, the 3rd and 4th Respondents may then proceeds to enter into a contract which I’m advised would become irrevocable if the implementation of the contract has commenced following the issuance of a letter of instruction to that effect. A Director of Jiangsu attended the de briefing on 2nd May and it was attended by 5 functionaries of the 3rdrespondent being two deputy directors one of them being a David Modise who is in charge of Project Contract and another team Leader one A. AjayaChadran,” said Wanglin.
He said Tang Hongwei was informed the reason Jiangsu was not successful “notwithstanding that its bid in terms of the Invitation to tender was the lowest price technically compliant bidder would be recommended for award, was that the 3rd Respondent has been informed by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) not to deal in any contract with the Applicant by reason of correspondence received from DIS.”
Justice Dube ordered that pending the hearing of an interim interdict by China Jiangsu International Botswana the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development will not enter into a contract with Zhengtai Group Botswana.