Sunday, April 18, 2021

Kgathi’s ministry in serious books procurement violations

A damning special internal audit report of the Botswana National Library Services (BNLS) has revealed how the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture department failed, dismally, to comply with processes regulating procurement.

The book tender (Tender No. PR 4/5/2/08 III) worth P6 million awarded to Quartz Stationers and Bookshop to supply certain libraries across the country with books bears no Memorandum of Agreement between the supplier and the government, according to a startling revelation of the internal audit report whose copy is in possession of the Sunday Standard.

Quartz Stationers and Bookshop managing director, Persis Menon, however, insists her company has a contract of agreement with the government to supply books. She vehemently denies the tender in question is shoddy.

The report, prepared by the Principal Internal Auditor, Segomotso Ditirafalo, raises grave concerns in the manner with which the tender has been handled. Contrary to established norms by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), the report says, the BNLS failed to draw a Memorandum of Agreement for the supply of books.

The only available documentation to show for it is a copy found in the government files still in the draft form, according the report.

“Failing to sign a Memorandum of Agreement between BNLS and the supplier was risking the Government P6 million in case there were disputes as there were no binding contractual obligations for the resolution of the disputes and smooth supply of the books and payments. This means that Management will be held responsible to account for any loss incurred in all the procurement processes,” warns the report.

According to the report, some books with the same ISBN were priced differently by the supplier. Added to this, book prices were not verified against the supplier’s price list to verify the correctness of the quoted prices.

The internal audit was triggered by a task force on Administrative Deficiencies at BNLS, headed by one R. M Setshwaelo, following observations that the department’s acquisition librarian and her juniors were clueless about a book order list of the tender with only the Head of the Department in the know.

Among the findings of the task force are that junior officers used quotations instead of the order list because they knew nothing about it.

“Copies that were supplied by the HOD were just a duplicate of the invoices from the supplier. Invoices were not arranged in an orderly manner and some of them were even missing,” according to the report.

There are allegations that the supplier has been using one of the offices at the BNLS to double as a ware house for books which do not form part of the tender – an allegation the company has refuted.
The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Shaw Kgathi, says he is not aware of the inner workings of his ministry as they relate to this particular departmental tender.

“I would not know anything about administrative details of the tender. As a political head, I only approve funds requested by the Ministerial Tender Committee. Political heads are not involved and do not influence any decisions taken by the PPADB in the awarding of tenders,” Kgathi told the Sunday Standard from South Africa.

The porous system at the BNLS has resulted in Quartz Stationers making a claim of P50 000 for unsupplied books for the Jwaneng Branch Library (Bulk GPO 01/2202/08 ÔÇô 09/000872) out of the total amount of P1.6 million raised according to the report.

“There were no records indicating whether or not the remaining books worth P50 009.70 were supplied. However, the supplier submitted invoices demanding payment of the above amount,” the report points out. Further, the report notes lack of supervision and coordination on the receipt of procured books and payments processes.

The report says funds for the procurements of library books were not utilized efficiently on account of a new method introduced by the PPADB which resulted in inordinate delays in procuring and failure by BSS [Bibliographic Support Services] Unit.

“The BSS Unit could neither indicate the quantities of books purchased under each category for each library nor the quantities of different titles purchased,” according to the report.

The areas and the budgets which the tender covers are: Tonota (P2 million), Jwaneng (P2 million), Rothchild (which covers Molalatau, Mmankgodi, Kopong, Matlhaku and Ramokgonami (P1.6 million), Village Reading Rooms covering Hatsalatladi, Kole, Vaalhoek, Satau and Motokwe (P400 000).

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper