The race is on between ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to win allegiance of public servants ahead of 2019 general election.
It is election season. It is now in the open that among other electorate, the two political formations are banking on the public service for votes in addition to their loyal members’ votes. In the build-up to the much-anticipated 2019 election both the UDC and the BDP want public servants in their corner and have revealed that they would do anything to ensure that public servants know their worth.
Through the assistance of the public service after the historic 2011 public sector strike, coalition opposition parties caused an uproar when they swept some constituencies from the ruling party. BDP is not ready to repeat the same mistake of undermining public servants. The party, according to its Secretary General Mpho Balopi is determined to win the hearts of many public servants.
He revealed that even the Labour and Wellness working committee of the Central Committee has been constituted in a manner that would break the barrier between BDP and public servants. In fact according to Balopi the BDP would work hard to win trust of public servants especially those at Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU). There has been animosity between the BDP-led government and BOFEPUSU since the 2011 strike, which saw thousands losing their jobs. Balopi has tributions or the payment taxes in accordance with the legal provisions of Tanzania- the country in which they are established- or with those countries where the contract is to be performed.
The criteria included that the bidder submit confirmation in terms of tax clearance certificate and, or a letter of good standing from the relevant tax authority in their country of origin. The auditors found that at the time of inspection of submitted documents, World Link Travel Tours Ltd had only a tax registration certificate dated 1999 with no other document to confirm their tax payments and returns are in order.
The auditors state that World Link Travel Tours Ltd should have been disqualified for failure to meet the basic requirement by submitting the mandatory document. The auditors say non-compliance with the pre- qualification criteria constitutes non-compliance with the procurement policies and guidelines and this might lead to SADC dealing business with suppliers that are not law abiding. This clearly was the case as World Link Travel Tours Ltd operated illegally in Botswana.
As for internal control, the auditors found that the Secretariat did not exercise its duties to ensure that the information required as per the set criteria in the bid documents is adequately evaluated against the submission before proceeding with appointing World Link Travel Tours Ltd.
The auditors have recommended that the Secretariat should establish how the company was not disqualified for failure to meet the set requirement. Further, the Secretariat should establish how the bid evaluation committee failed to notice such a basic thing that the winning bidder did not submit the mandatory document.
In his attempt to clarify the matter, Gift Mike Gwaza, the Acting Head of Procurement told the auditors that World Link Travel Tours Ltd provided a tax clearance certificate ILA/UP 16/07/20/2413 issued by the Tanzanian Revenue Authority dated 20 July 2016. The Auditors state that whilst they note the management comments, the fact is World Link Travel Tours Ltd tax clearance was not submitted on time as it was issued on 20 July, 2016 five days after the set closing date of 15th July, 2016. They ordered for the Secretariat to investigate why both adjudication and evaluation committees did not disqualify the World Link Travel Tours Ltd even though they did not have a tax clearance.Ironically, Gwaza who has been identified as a player and a judge by participating in the due diligence process of confirming that World Link Travel Tours Ltd is the right bidder, is the one who assures that management will undertake an independent investigation and that identified internal weaknesses will be addressed.
Perhaps the most embarrassing matter raised by the audit is that none of the committees even the 5-man due diligence committee that travelled to Tanzania and Gwaza were part of, ignored the fact that World Link Travel Tours Ltd did not meet the financial resource requirement.
The audit findings state that a successful bidder for bid No. (SADC/Travel and Event/01/2016- was required to have a minimum average turnover related to the contract of USD 9 million calculated as a total certified payments received for contracts in progress and, or completed within the last three years, way above World Link Travel Tours Ltd’s USD 7.730 170.37.Actually, the company had reported in its bid document that its average revenue for the past three years is USD 9053 000. The Secretariat management defends itself by saying that the tender was carried in line with SADC procurement policy guidelines and the tender was serviced by the external tender committee comprising members from Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. They argue that the bidding documents did not specify the conversion rates. However, the auditors said that the management comments are misleading as they are not addressing the findings reported and neither disputing the fact that the average revenues of World Link Travel Tours Ltd are not equal or above USD 9 m.
The above criterion is believed to have contributed in eliminating all local companies who provide such a service and have served SADC diligently in the past years. Efforts to contact both Dr Tax and Gwaza were not successful. They failed to return the calls from this publication.