Thursday, October 22, 2020

PPADB under the microscope as court interdicts

The Public Procurement Disposal Board (PPADB)’s integrity is on trial.

The government’s procuring entity is caught up in a vicious war involving two Chinese companies and the Independent Complaints Review Committee (ICRC) over a billion Pula tender.

The controversy escalated last week as the High Court on Thursday interdicted PPADB’s decision to re-award the tender to Zhengtai for the design, supply and build of water distribution network, sanitation, reticulation, telemetry and scada and other associated work in Maun.

The tender was initially won by China Jiangsu at P1.5 billion price and later re-awarded to Zhengtai Group Botswana at a price worth more than P1.8 billion.

This follows the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS)’decision instructing the Ministry of Land, Water and Sanitation Services to cancel the tender citing national security. 

The PPADB later found itself with its back against the wall after it reversed the tender that it had previously awarded to China Jiangsu Botswana and awarded it to Zhengtai Group Botswana.

This was despite the fact that the ICRC had thrown out the window an appeal by Zhengtai Group after PPADB had initially awarded the tender to China Jiangsu Botswana. The ICRC was established to handle complaints against the PPADB.

In its judgement dated 19th February 2019, signed by its Chairman Kabelo Joseph Motswagole, the ICRC had ruled that “the appeal launched by Zhengai Group Botswana (Pty) Ltd for the review of the PPAD to dismiss their complaint in respect of tender No.PR 10/13/16II-For the Design, Supply and Build of Water Distribution Network, Sanitation Reticulation, Telemetry and SCADA and Associated Works in Maun be and is hereby dismissed.”

The ICRC also ruled that “in view of fact that the complaint did not have merit in relation to its substance, the complaint fee of BWP350.000.00 (three hundred and fifty thousand Pula only) paid by Zhengtai Group Botswana Pty Ltd when lodging the complaint shall not be refunded.”

But the PPADB went ahead and  approved the awarding of the tender to Zhengtai Group Botswana while its decision to summersault on the awarding  the same tender was being challenged before High Court by China Jiangsu Botswana.

On Wednesday, China Jiangsu Botswana approached the High Court on urgency seeking to interdict PPADB and the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services from awarding the tender to Zhengtai.

On Thursday, Justice Gabriel Komboni issued an order interdicting the Ministry from entering into any contract with Zhengtai Group Botswana pending the hearing of the application for interim interdict.

 In his founding affidavit, Managing Director of China Jiangsu International Botswana Cui Wanglin on 21 March 2019, his company got wind that PPADB has awarded or rewarded the same tender in dispute and the one which is a matter of review before the Court to Zhengtai Group Botswana. 

He said they collected a Daily News of Tuesday March 26 2019 and under PPAD Board‘s decision is a decision that the tender in dispute which is the subject of review proceedings before the Court has been awarded to Zhengtai Group Botswana for a whopping sum of P1,873,965,187,72 following the withdraw of tender from China Jiangsu Botswana on 7th February 2019.

 Wanglin said his attorneys also received confirmation from 26 March 2019 to the effect that it was true and correct that PPADB met on the 21st March 2019 and approved a request from the Ministry to award the tender in dispute and which is currently before the Court for review proceedings to Zhengtai Group Botswana.

“Not withstanding knowledge on the part of the 1st Respondent (PPADB) that there are proceedings to review its decision, the 1st Respondent has taken a deliberate decision to purport to award the tender to the 4th Respondent (Zengtai Group Botswana) and with the full knowledge that execution of the tender aforesaid will frustrate the review proceedings,” he said.

Wanglin said that the conduct of PPADB “may well amount to constructive contempt.”

 “The 1st Respondent (PPADB) was at all times awarded and is party to the review proceeding before the court in a matter in which the purported withdrawal of the tender is in dispute,” said Wanglin.

He added that the conduct of PPADB was “to deliberately interfere with the review proceedings before this Court, by purporting to award the same the same tender to the 4th Respondent (Zhengtai Group Botswana), in that it matters not as whether or not there was a Court Oder in place.”

“I should hasten to add that while Applicant was awarded the tender at a price of P1, 568,877,164.38 the First Respondent has purported to award the same tender whose review is pending before this Court at a price of P1, 873.965, 187.72 well in excess of what the independent evaluators who awarded the tender to the Applicant (China Jiangsu Botswana) determined to be a fair price,” said Wanglin.

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