Sunday, September 27, 2020

DCEC probes Kgathi’s Ministry over books tender

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is probing the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture following a controversial books tender that was awarded to a company called Quartz Stationers and Bookshop.

Although the DCEC spokesman, Lentswe Motshoganetsi, had not immediately confirmed or denied such a probe, the Sunday Standard has it on good authority that the investigation is, in fact, ongoing.

The DCEC probe comes after we ran a story last year exposing how the Botswana National Library Services (BNLS) got involved in serious procurement violations in the awarding of a tender to Quartz Stationers and Bookshop. Tender No. PR4/5/2/08 III worth P6 million was for the supplying of certain libraries across the country with books. The tender, nevertheless, bore no Memorandum of Agreement between the government and Quartz Stationers and Bookshop, according to an internal audit report seen by the Sunday Standard.

The internal report prepared by the Principal Internal Auditor, Segomotso Ditirafalo, raised grave concerns in the manner in which the tender had been handled. The internal audit report noted that contrary to established norms by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board, the BNLS failed to draw a Memorandum of Agreement for the supply of books.

Quartz Stationers Managing Director, Persis Menon, maintained her company had a contract with the government to supply books.

The report warned that failure to sign MoA by BNLS and Quartz Stationers risked government P6 million in case there were disputes as there were no binding contractual obligations for the resolution of the disputes and the smooth supply of books and payments.

“This means management will be held responsible to account for any loss incurred in all procurement processes,” the report warned. According to the internal audit report, some books with the same ISBN were priced differently by Quartz Stationers and that book prices were not verified against the supplier’s price list to verify the correctness of the quoted prices.

Minister Shaw Kgathi has previously said that he would not know anything about administrative details of the tender as his part was to approve funds requested by the Ministerial tender Committee.

“Political heads are not involved and do not influence any decisions taken by the PPADB in the awarding of tenders,” Kgathi said.

The audit was triggered by a task force on Administrative Deficiencies at BNLS following observations that the department acquisitions librarian and her juniors were clueless about a book list of the tender with only the Head of the Department being in the know.

The porous system at BNLS saw Quartz Stationers making a claim of P50 000 for unsupplied books for the Jwaneng Branch Library. The report says there were no records indicating whether the remaining books worth P50 000 were supplied but Quartz Stationers submitted invoices demanding payment of the same amount.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.