Monday, October 18, 2021

Judge instructs Registrar to forward judgement on tender case to OP

If by “immediate” Justice Dr. Zein Kebonang meant close of business on Thursday, the Office of the President would by now have received the copy of a judgement in which the MFDP and PPADB are said to have purposely colluded to improperly award a lucrative tender to a company owned by a prominent Gaborone businessman.

Ruling on the matter on Wednesday morning, Kebonang made an order directing the Registrar and Master of the High Court to bring the judgement to the “immediate attention” of the Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi. Cataloguing a laundry list of improper conduct on the part of the ministerial tender committee (MTC) and PPADB itself, the judge found that at every stage of the process, Zambezi Motors was improperly favoured over Varsha Enterprise. The former is owned by Ishmael Nshakazhogwe while the latter is owned by Said Jamali, both deep-pocketed businessmen with numerous commercial interests. Zambezi and Varsha responded to a tender to lease office accommodation in Gaborone to Accountant General, an MFDP department.

The court found that while it had inadequate space, Zambezi quoted an above-market rate for its buildings which had a number of defects uncovered by a fit-for-purpose inspection. The latter buildings also had no stand-by power generator as specified in the invitation to tender (ITT). The latter was a contingency power supply measure for when the Botswana Power Corporation grid gave out. On the other hand, Varsha met was offering the required space at a cheaper rate and its building had a generator. Way after the tendering had closed and after both tenders had been evaluated, the MFDP initiated written communication with Zambezi under the hand of Jacob Momene, the Deputy Permanent secretary (Corporate Services). The latter asked the company if it would consider reconfiguring its bid but didn’t extend similar courtesy to its competitor, Varsha.

Having reviewed the evidence before him, Justice Kebonang adjudged the MFDP’s MTC and PPADB to have “predetermined” the winner against what procurement law prescribes. In positive response to Varsha’s prayer, he reversed the MTC’s decision and awarded the contract to the company. On account of what he deemed to have been persistent “bias” against Varsha, the judge said that the ministry and the Board cannot be reasonably to be fair were they to make a final decision on the matter.

Sending a copy of the judgement to OP almost guarantees that it will reach an authority higher than Morupisi ÔÇô President Ian Khama.

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