The catchphrase in all SADC Secretariat management responses to the Auditors findings is, ‘we have noted the observation, an independent investigation will be conducted and internal weaknesses will be addressed as would be identified’.
Both the Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax and Acting Senior Procurement Officer, Gift Mike Gwaza claimed that everything was done in accordance with the tender documents when BG News started to expose the corruption on awarding of the tender to provide air travel and conference facilities.
They have maintained the same answer to the Board of Auditors on almost all the queries and findings of the audit. However, they promised having noted the observations, that an independent investigation will be conducted and that internal weaknesses identified will be addressed.
The records show that Gwaza in his official capacity has on many occasions taken part in recommending and approving the many tenders that are questionable. The undisputable facts provided by the Board of Auditors’ findings show that the internal audit is allegedly not independent as the head of internal audit and its team members were involved in the bid evaluations for the activities not relating to the internal audit.
Under the procurement and contract management, the board of auditors confirmed that a Tanzanian company -World Link Travel Tours Ltd - was favoured as the terms prescribed in the prequalification criteria ITA 5.3 (d) were flouted. The audit states that the bidder - World Link Travel Tours Ltd- who was awarded a tender to the value of USD 20 million did not meet the required criteria stipulated in the bidding of documents as the bidder did not meet the financial requirement and did not submit the tax clearance certificate before the bid was closed.
The bidding documents were signed on the contract is that the contract will be reviewed every six months. The period of the contract signed in December 2016 elapsed at the end of May.
The audit is clouded by the Secretariat management position led by Tax stating that they will ask the external tender committee to do the investigation. But the financial experts are saying management should not hide behind the innocent tender committee as the committee relies on the information provided by the Secretariat, a matter which means if the information provided to them by the Secretariat is inaccurate, then it will be difficult for the tender committee to detect it.
Worse still, amongst the weaknesses the auditors commented on is that under financial and performance management, the Secretariat did not implement proper record keeping to ensure that supporting documents for financial transactions and procurement are timely retrievable, user access management processes are inadequate, as there were weaknesses in terms of the segregation of duties on payroll and leave approval on the VIP systems.