Internal power struggles at the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) are paralyzing the implementation of a number of government multi million Pula development projects.
The PPADB, led by Executive Chairman Armando Lionjanga, is involved in a number of disputes with the Independent Complaints Review Committee (ICRC) over issues of procedure, stemming from a misunderstanding of who between the two (PPADB and ICRC) prevails in case of a deadlock.
The PPADB Act, which is a founding piece of law under which the Board was established, provides for an independent complaints review mechanism.
The idea was to minimize litigation costs as well as enhance turnaround of dispute resolution by avoiding the legal recourse which is both expensive and lengthy.
As it turns out, there is no consensus even from within adjudicating structures.
Under the system, clients who are not happy with decisions taken by PPADB can appeal to the Independent Complaints Review Committee.
But in a bizarre twist of recent, Mr. Lionjanga and his board have been questioning the decisions and, by extension, the legality of the ICRC, especially in instances where the complaints committee questioned the decisions by PPADB.
The tussle between the two has delayed the awarding and implementation of about five multi million Pula development projects.
One such case involves the country’s two cellular companies, Orange Botswana and Mascom.
The other case, a P40 million telecommunications tender was awarded to a South African company under circumstance the ICRC has since viewed questionable and dubious.
The PPADP Public Relations Manager, Ms Ditapole Chibua-Tsheboeng, said while there is no dispute as to who is supreme between the PPADB and ICRC, the Board led by Lionjanga has a right to question and seek clarification on decision by ICRC if they are not happy with such decisions.
“If PPADB strongly feels the ICRC is wrong, the Board has every right to seek clarification with the complaints committee,” said Chibua-Tsheboeng.
She said that is what is currently going on between the PPADB and the ICRC.
She said on a number of occasions the Board wrote to ICRC seeking to have certain decisions taken by the committee explained to them.
While the ICRC has ruled in favour of a number of complainants, bidders who have had their complaints upheld by the ICRC are now confused as the PPADB seems bent on frustrating the rulings of the Committee.
In the past, President Festus Mogae has complained against delaying of government projects as a result of litigation processes by losing bidders, it would be interesting to see what action government (especially the Ministry of Finance) will take when delays are a result of internal power struggles between agencies that are supposed to be facilitating tender adjudication processes.