- Minister says DISS gets involved as an oversight
- Says DISS has so far been involved in two instances over four years
- Saleshando says there are “some untruths” in minister’s answer
Answering on behalf of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, transport minister Thulaganyo Segokgo said while there is no provision in the PPADB Act for DISS to determine awarding of tenders, some sections of the Act justify and provide for its involvement in some processes.
“The PPADB Act in Section 53.1 provides for complaints by various stakeholders in respect of any party to procurement or disposal activity,” Segokgo said. “Section 53.2 of the same Act provides for oversight agencies such as DISS to undertake an enquiry into an alleged or an actual (violation) of the procurement or disposal process and advise the procuring entity accordingly.”
He spoke of two instances over the past four years where intervention by DISS resulted in revocation and re-awarding of the tenders. According to Minister Segokgo, the first tender was the Maun Water Supply and Sanitation project, which entailed the design, supply and building of water distribution networks, sanitation, reticulation and other associated works in Maun and surrounding villages.
It was awarded to China Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd by the PPADB on 11 October 2018 and later revoked and given to the next lowest bidder, Zhengtai Group Botswana (Pty) Ltd, on 21 March 2019 after PPADB received information from the DISS that China Jiangsu International had been involved in activities that bordered on the company being a threat to national security.
“The project commenced in October 2019 and is still ongoing,” the minister said. The second tender was a proposed primary hospital and associated works in Moshopa, which was an open tender, and the evaluation board showed that China Jiangsu International was the lowest bidder. Zhengtai Group Botswana and Whitacon bid together in a joint venture, and emerged as the second lowest bidder.
PPADB had recommended China Jiangsu International as it was the lowest compiling bidder. However, upon intervention of DISS, the company missed the bid due to its alleged involvement in activities deemed a threat to national security and the tender award was given to the Zhengati Group Botswana and Whitacon. “A PPADB board meeting held on the April 8, 2019 approved the tender awarding to the Zhengtai Group Botswana and Whitacon joint venture for a contract of 30 calendar months and the project commenced on September 20, 2019 and is still ongoing.”
The minister denied that the DISS ever directed any company to be allocated tenders, saying DISS had shared information with PPADB in relation to the Maun and Moshopa projects in line with its mandate. He emphasised that PPADB independently decides to take or not take DISS advice into consideration The MP for Maun West, Dumelang Saleshando, who had asked the question, said there was some untruths in the answer given to Parliament. Saleshando insisted that DISS does not advise but rather directs PPADB.
He said he was in possession of a savingram from the Director General of DISS, Peter Magosi, directing the permanent secretary of a ministry to terminate dealings with a certain company due to the threat it allegedly poses to national security. Minister Segokgo said the finance ministry was not aware of any action taken against China Jiangsu International for allegedly being a threat to national security but was aware that the company took PPADB and Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services to court.