Fresh information has emerged that the Ministry of Justice Defence and Security is at crossroads after the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) at its sitting of 30th May this year, twice in a row, turned down the latter’s tender to rent office space from Varsha Enterprise, a company owned by property magnate Seyed Jamali.
The recent non-approval of the tender by PPADB follows another decision not to approve the same tender in December last year after it emerged that procedure was not followed to award the tender to Jamali’s company.
Despite the fact that the Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security has already signed a multi million Pula lease agreement on December l2012 with Varsha Enterprise, the board at its sitting on 30th May rejected the tender for the second time.
The Ministry had stated in its recent submission to PPADB that it opted for the direct appointment of Varsha Enterprise since it was the only bidder who responded to the expression of interest as advertised by the Ministry of Lands and Housing.
But the Board in its decision which was published in the Botswana Daily newspaper of 3rd June, 2014, rejected the tender, something that leaves the Ministry pondering whether to nullify the agreement with Varsha Enterprise or not since it is legally binding. The rental for Varsha Enterprise building were to cost the Ministry P34 million a year.
Responding to Sunday Standard queries the Ministry’s spokesperson Samma Tabudi stated that “For now any progress on the matter will be put off following the PPADB decision of 30th May 2014. We have however decided that we will take back our office space needs back to the Ministry of Lands and Housing to determine the way forward.”
Asked if the Ministry was pushing ahead with the relocation to Varsha Enterprises building, Tabudi said “we will push to have appropriate accommodation at no specific property but any property found suitable for our needs and requirements.”
While PPADB was busy processing the re-submission it had received from the Ministry it came to its attention that the final agreement had been signed on 20th December 2012. This was despite the fact that PPADB had advised against the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security signing a lease with Varsha Enterprises on the grounds that proper procedure had not been followed.
Tabudi said the Ministry seeks office accommodation is driven by their immediate needs now and the projected growth.
“Factually our office space needs are not defined by ownership behind any property, but by evidence of availability of sufficient office space.”
She added that “indeed we can confirm that in 2013 this Ministry made a submission to the PPADB to procure office space as was defined by our needs. However the procurement was not approved by the PPADB as it was determined to be irregular in their view.”
Tabudi said PPADB cited, in particular the fact the rental had already been negotiated by the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security (MDJS), and the lease having already been signed by the Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) by the time the PPADB received their submission.
“Subsequent to this, remedial procurement processes were initiated by this Ministry, with full consultation and support of the Ministry of Lands and Housing. This was with a view to comply with the PPADB procedures and the MLH Guidelines for the procurement of office space. This process was initiated by first re-stating our office needs to the Ministry of Lands and Housing, who thereafter guided us along their office procurement processes and authorisations,” she added.
Tabudi further stated that “After going step by step through all the relevant consultations, authorisations and support of the Ministry of Lands and Housing, we made our submission to the PPADB having been satisfied ourselves that we have complied with all the processes and guidelines.”
Making reference to PPAD’s rejection of the tender for the second time in a row, Tabudi said “However, the PPADB at its sitting of 30th May 2014 made a decision about our office space procurement submission. Their non-approval decision is clearly stated in the Botswana Daily newspaper of Tuesday 3rd June, 2014 (No 102, Page 3).”
Tabudi said Ministry of Lands and Housing had availed all the information relating to Varsha Enterprise building following their response to the advertisement by the Ministry of Lands and Housing of Expression of Interest for the provision of office accommodation to the Botswana Government.
“Having made known our need for a larger office to the Ministry of Lands and Housing, and having been informed by the same of the availability of the property in question the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security initiated the procurement processes, including submission to the PPADB as the said building met our immediate office space requirements and projected growth in a year’s time,” she said.
Jamali, through his Personal Assistant, had promised to respond to a request for comment on the issue but had not done so at the time of going to press.