The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) has instructed the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to submit itself to an open tender process if they still need office space.
The Ministry has come under multiple agency scrutiny following a hasty decision to rent office property owned by one Seyed Jamali without following proper tendering procedures.
The rental of the space has been found to be way beyond the Ministry’s legal threshold, and therefore irregular in that it sidestepped PPADB.
The result is that the property remains vacant years after it was completed because PPADB and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament have since intervened and made known their reservations flouting of procedures by the ministry.
To make matters worse the Ministry had gone ahead and signed a lease agreement thereby bonding government.
As it turns out, the property was custom made for the ministry, which raises suspicions of a possible pre-arrangement between the land owner and one official in the ministry.
Information passed to The Telegraph this week indicates that PPADB has ordered an open tender and called on the ministry to show cause why it would need such a huge office space.
When the idea of moving into the property was first conceived it was expected to house executive leaderships of all components under the ministry which include the Botswana Defence Force, Police, Prisons, and some aspects of the Administration of Justice and attorney General.
The Telegraph has also learnt that some components of the ministry, most notably the leadership of Botswana Defence Force have said they are not interested in moving into the new structure.
PPADB has said the old tender under which the property was chosen was unfair as it closed out other potential bidders.
The multi million Pula agreement lease recently became a matter of intense public debate after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) discovered that the tender was marred with irregularities. The PAC has recommended in its recently released report that DCEC “should investigate this matter and if any malpractices are detected, culprits should be prosecuted.”
PAC has also recommended that the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security should negotiate with the other parties to the lease agreement to nullify the agreement of lease signed in December 2012 and start the procurement process afresh.
The PAC found that the Ministry wanted the rentals to be approved before valuation of the building was done, which was “rather absurd.” Furthermore negotiation of rentals is supposed to be done with the assistance of Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) before approval by the Ministerial Tender Committer (MTC) but the Ministry did the reverse.)
The report states that on realising that the rental of P2 830 211.00 per month being equivalent to P33 962 532.00 per annum, was beyond its threshold of P25million, the MTC advised that the request for approval of the rental should be re-directed to PPADB.
“In response, instead of requesting PPADB for approval, the Ministry wrote again to MTC requesting for approval to negotiate rental charges and lease agreement with the assistance of MLH. It was not clear why the Ministry decided to write to MTC when they had been clearly advised to direct their request to PPADB,” states the report.
The report says since the rental offer on the table was beyond the MTC threshold, the request to negotiate the rental should have been made to PPADB straight away. At its meeting of the 1st November 2012, the MTC however approved the request to negotiate the rentals as requested, says the report.
Following the approval to negotiate the rentals, the Ministry wrote to MLH on the 9th November 2012 indicating that the MTC had approved the lease rental negotiations and they could proceed assisting with the negotiations.
The report states that while PPADB was busy processing the re-submission it had received from the Ministry, it came to their attention that the final Memorandum of Agreement of Lease had been signed on the 20th December 2012.
As a result, the report says, PPADB advised the Ministry that it still maintained its earlier stance that their application was retroactive and was therefore rejected.