The Public Procurement and Assert Disposal Board (PPADB) Executive Chairman, Armando Lionjanga, has expressed concern that his organisation faces a series of unsubstantiated allegations of corruption in the tendering system and a newly found culture of leaking information on the evaluation process.
Speaking at a briefing to enlighten members of the media on matters concerning tender adjudication, contractor registrations and the general management of tenders for Central government, Lionjanga lamented that the PPADB was faced with unsubstantiated allegations of corruption yet they had appealed to members of the public making allegations of corruption to come forward and to give information that could help institute investigations into the procurement process.
“It is not a healthy culture that loss of a tender should be ascribed to corruption,” said Lionjanda. “This dents and discredits the credibility of the procurement system. The concern that we have is that the losers never want to accept their loss but rather allege corruption, despite they being unsubstantiated.”
He pointed out that the allegations have the potential to damage Botswana’s image world wide and that had the potential to drive away investors.
The PPADB was set up in 2002 to deal with procurement of government tenders, a process that was previously done by supplies regulation and procedures under the central tender board in the ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Lionjanga indicated that in the year 2004 to 2006 the organisation had experienced some devolution, capacity building and operationalisation phase.
Legal battles erupting from bidders who challenge the board’s decisions have also been cited as one of the organisations major setbacks. According to the board’s legal advisor, ever since its inception, the PPADB has had about 10 cases from bidders challenging the board’s decision.
Out of these 10 cases, it lost one case and had another case settled out of court. In this financial year, however, one case has already been settled out of court and 10 cases are still pending before the high court. The amount of money spent on litigation has risen from P346 000 in the financial year 2004/2005 to P1.8 million in financial year 2005/2006 as well as 2006/2007.
Lionjanga acknowledged that litigation was indeed poking into their budget but reiterated that people had to understand that procurement was about competition.
“These issues have to be appreciated in the context of a race and there will always be one winner. Although everyone wishes to be the successful bidder, the reality of it is that there can only be one winner,” he said.
Lionjanga also criticized members of the evaluation committee saying that they were the ones responsible for the continuous leakage of information to bidders and prompting bidders to alleged corruption. He, however, stated that the board was working around the clock to solve the concern of leakage of information.
The PPADB board is working on establishing concrete measures to take against those found to be leaking information to bidders.
The board has also developed counter measures to retain original documents to verify information from evaluating procurement entities prior to tender awards.