Friday, May 20, 2022

DCEC urged to pursue Jamali’s multi-million lease agreement

Chairman of the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC), Nehemiah Modubule has urged the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to investigate circumstances that led to the lease agreement between the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security and a company owned by property magnate Sayed Jamali without the approval of the Public Procumbent and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB).

Speaking in a brief interview on the sidelines of the official opening of the Public Accounts Committee session, Modubule said they had made a follow up with the DCEC to establish the status of investigations.  

“We are making a follow up to find out how far they are with the issue after we made recommendations that they should investigate the matter. We are still waiting for their feedback,” he said.

Asked if their recommendations were binding, Modubule said, “in a democratic set up, and under normal circumstances, once recommendations are made, whether they are binding or not, they should be acted upon. The expectation is that PAC recommendations should be acted upon.”

DECE spokesperson, Lentswe Motshoganetsi said he was not in a position to say whether the investigations by the corruption busting agency had commenced as he was attending a workshop in Kanye. Jamali could not be reached for comment.

According to the report, the PAC recommended that DCEC “should investigate this matter and if any malpractices are detected, culprits should be prosecuted.”

PAC in also recommended that the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security should negotiate with the other parties to the lease agreement to nullify the agreement of lease signed in December 2012 and start the procurement process afresh.

The PAC found that “the Ministry wanted the rentals to be approved before valuation of the building was done, which was rather absurd. Furthermore negotiation of rentals is supposed to be done with the assistance of Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) before approval by the Ministerial Tender Committer (MTC) but the Ministry did the reverse.)

The report states that on realising that the rental of P2 830 211.00 per month being equivalent to P33 962 532.00 per annum, was beyond its threshold of P25million, the MTC advised that the request for approval of the rental should be re-directed to PPADB.

“In response, instead of requesting PPADB for approval, the Ministry wrote again to MTC requesting for approval to negotiate rental charges and lease agreement with the assistance of MLH. It was not clear why the Ministry decided to write to MTC when they had been clearly advised to direct their request to PPADB,” states the report.

The report says since the rental offer on the table was beyond the MTC threshold, the request to negotiate the rental should have been made to PPADB straight away. At its meeting of the 1st November 2012, the MTC however approved the request to negotiate the rentals as requested, says the report.

Following the approval to negotiate the rentals, the Ministry wrote to MLH on the 9th November 2012 indicating that the MTC had approved the lease rental negotiations and they could proceed assisting with the negotiations.

The report states that while PPADB was busy processing the re-submission it had received from the Ministry, it came to their attention that the final Memorandum of Agreement of Lease had been signed on the 20th December 2012.

As a result, the report says, PPADB advised the Ministry that it still maintained its earlier stance that their application was retroactive and was therefore rejected.

“Earlier on PPADB had indicated the possibility of a fresh start of the procurement process but now in light of the latest position regarding the lease, the Board stated that a fresh start on the procurement process could commence only if the Ministry could provide new information that could persuade the Board to allow the process to start afresh and there should be evidence that there was nothing binding on the procurement of the subject office space currently in question,” the reports says.

The report says PPADB went further to advise the Ministry to sort out the issue of the signed Memorandum of Agreement of Lease with the relevant parties and revert to the Board with a recommendation on the way forward.

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