Tuesday, September 29, 2020

ELTEL tender, more questions than answers

The award of a multi million Pula tender to ELTEL, for the electrification of 100 villages, did not go through the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Tender Committee, contrary to earlier claims by the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, The Sunday Standard?s latest investigations have revealed.

In his response to a Sunday Standard front page story earlier this year, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Dr Akolang Tombale stated that:

?The allegation that the appointment of the contracting firm ELTEL should have been done through the PPADB (and therefore it implies corruption), is false and without foundation, both as a matter of law and fact;

? ELTEL was subjected to due diligence in Sweden before participation of the Nordic Banks;?
In Botswana ? BPC projects are handed by BPC using their own internal tender and procurement procedures that fall outside the PPADB?s mandate. And indeed the PPADB has never been involved in any of the Rural Electrification Projects financed with funds from Nordic countries, and
? ELETEL?s proposal was subjected to a thorough technical evaluation by the Botswana Power Corporation and their pricing was found to be competitive.?

The Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that the multi million tender never went through the BPC Tender Committee, and a query was raised in a board meeting by Chairman of the Tender Committee, Mr. Super Koontse, who was unhappy that the nation had been misled.
Dr Tombale could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country.

Quizzed on why the tender did not go through the BPC internal tendering procedures, BPC Chief Executive Officer, John Kaluzi, said the tendering process should have been done by government and not BPC.

?What is key is that the loan agreement was between the banks and our government; it was never between the banks and BPC. Even the loan agreement document is clear on who the exporter is; it says government not BPC.?

This is in spite of Dr Tombale?s press statement that was circulated in the local media claiming that ?the Rural Electrification project is a BPC project under the auspices of our ministry.?

Kaluzi referred The Sunday Standard to a statement issued by the current minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, who broke ranks with the ministry?s earlier position and explained that tenders were never invited for the rural electrification projects because the project was turnkey and subject to negotiations. The Minister said since financing of the project was negotiated externally due to unavailability of funds, government did not lend itself to the application and use of the PPADB tendering regulations.

The PPADB would not comment on this. After requesting a questionnaire which we forwarded to them, they later came back to us saying they were unable to provide answers and referring us to the ministry.

Chairperson of the BPC board, Ms Ewetse Rakhudu, also declined to comment on the issue, referring all queries to the chairperson of the BPC Tender Board, Mr. Super Koontse, who was not available for comment.

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