Africa-Press – Namibia. President Hage Geingob has come out guns blazing against calls for him to cancel a controversial N$650 million tender awarded to Amnics Trading to supply the health ministry with clinical products.
He said changes in the law prohibits him from cancelling the tender and reminded critics that the Supreme Court found the cancellation of a former bidding process to have been irrational, unfair and unlawful.
Geingob yesterday said he is a champion of the rule of law, and therefore has an obligation to respect the law.
The President’s missive comes after a public outcry and suggestions he cancel this tender, as he directed to the Minister of Works and Transport during 2015/16 to cancel the multi-million dollar tender on the upgrade and rehabilitation of the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
However, that tender cancellation occurred prior to the coming into force of the Public Procurement Act during 2017.
“In accordance with the requirements of a separation of powers, the function of public procurement awards was given to an independent body, the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN), in respect of a bidding process beyond a prescribed amount. That is the body which, in this medical tender saga, has statutory power to evaluate bids, to award bids and more importantly, under section 54 of the Public Procurement Act, to cancel a procurement process on limited and circumscribed grounds.
“The CPBN – not members of the Executive or the President – is therefore the appropriate functionary with power to call for bids, evaluate bids, make awards and, in defined cases, to cancel the procurement process.
The CPBN is, therefore, the body that has a direct responsibility to ensure value for money,” said
President Geingob in a statement issued late yesterday afternoon. He said the promulgation of the Public Procurement Act, 15 of 2015, which came into force in April 2017, was meant to rectify abuses of the system.
“The primary object of this law is to promote integrity, accountability, transparency, competitive supply and legality. One of the significant reform principles introduced by this law is its application to both the central government and all agencies of government, including public enterprises,” said Geingob. The President believes the recent public procurement system reform provides an effective legal framework to promote good governance, provided that those given responsibilities at CPBN carry out their work effectively, fairly and diligently.
He, however, “without seeking to inappropriately interfere with the statutory process, calls on public functionaries in government ministries, public enterprises and the CPBN” to ensure that the Public Procurement Act, and its regulations and codes of good practice, are applied strictly and that all instances of irregularity, corruption and non-compliance with the law are “with immediate effect and without fear or favour, investigated and addressed in a fair and transparent manner”.
Businessman Shapwa Kanyama’s company was awarded the tender, despite bidding millions of dollars more than the closest competitor. The public also criticised the awarding of the tender because the CPBN never verified if Kanyama actually owns a condom manufacturing facility, as claimed in the tender.
A visit to the facility by New Era this week left more questions than answers.
No manufacturing seems to be taking place at the facility. Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Nico Smit yesterday went as far as suggesting the CPBN should be dissolved. At a media briefing in Windhoek, Smit said PDM is convinced the board must be fired, as it already acknowledged
several red flags in the tender.
Earlier this week, PDM president McHenry Venaani threatened to take legal action against CPBN over the tender. “I am convinced there are government officials who are colluding to eat together from this tender,
and we must investigate and find out who is behind all this,” Venaani said.
CPBN’s administrative head Amon Ngavetene on Tuesday, on NBC’s ‘One on One’ programme, also stated that the president has no powers to cancel any tender. During a hastily-arranged press briefing last Friday, Ngavetene said bidders who are aggrieved by a
decision, or any public entity, may apply for reconsideration of the decision. He said the notice for the selection of procurement award is not a final award, and may change upon the reconsideration of any issues that may be raised by bidders during the standstill period, which was from 12 to 20 January 2023.
However, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, Minister of Health and Social Services, during a briefing on the Covid-19 and HIV situation in Windhoek yesterday warned against cancelling the tender.
“There are 492 items on this tender, including gloves and condoms. Cancellation of this tender will paralyse the operations of the ministry, endanger public health and put human life at great risk,” he said.
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