Thursday, July 7, 2022

DCEC stops multi-million Pula cattle ear tags tender award amid claims of tender rigging

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has reversed the award of a multi million tender to a Swiss company for the supply cattle ear tags following reports of tender rigging. This followed complaints by industry insiders that the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) had conspired with Swiss supplier in a bid rigging scam that closed out other potential suppliers of the Analogue (Visual) Ear Tags and Ear Tag applicators for the Livestock Identification System (LITS).

The whistle blowers complained that tender specifications were tailor made to suit Datamars SA, stating that the company’s subsidiary which is based in Namibia was part of the team that drew up the invitation to tender (ITT) document alongside DVS officials. The tender with a total value of Euro 728, 896.00 (P7, 288 960.00) inclusive of value added tax was awarded and approved by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) in one of its December 2012 sittings.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Micus Chimbombi approached the DCEC in a bid to convince them that there was nothing underhand in the award of the tender, but was turned down. DCEC confirmed this week that it has ordered a re-tender of the multi-million pula project. A decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to opt for the Restricted International Tendering (RIS) model in 2012, sparked a controversy among market players who complained that Datamars was unfairly set up to clinch the tender as its Namibian based agent was part of the team that drew up the ITT.

True to their suspicion, Datamars was awarded the tender. The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed this week that their decision to award the tender to Datamars SA was overturned by DCEC after investigating claims of tender rigging. DCEC Deputy Director, Botlhale Makgekgenene would not disclose what their investigation has turned up, stating that usually such information is not shared with the public whilst investigations are ongoing.

She however promised to avail the information once the matter has been put to rest. Ministry of Agriculture, Permanent Secretary, Micus Chimbombi told Sunday Standard that following an order for retendering by DCEC invitation to tender adverts were floated and the tender has now been awarded to a local company. The dispute resulted in the delay of the ear tag system which was supposed to have started last year March.

“Currently the ministry is undertaking a nationwide ear tag campaign that will help to improve the livestock traceability because the bolus system had some disadvantages, “added Chimbombi.

He said initially the ministry wanted to engage the manufacture outside Botswana since there was no company that was manufacturing electronic ear tags. Their decision has however been foiled by DCEC. He said that the feud delayed the introduction of ear tags traceability which could impact negatively on the beef industry.

He was hopeful that the introduction of ear tags will become fully operational as the issue has been resolved. Chimbombi stated that he had approached DCEC trying to convince them that there was no under hand tactics in the procurement but they were advised to bring the Public Procurement and Assert Disposal Board on board.

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