North West District Council (NWDC) was recently at pains to explain the canceled face masks tender, which was allegedly awarded to a foreign-owned tailor in Maun through the controversial direct procurement method introduced when the country went into lockdown in April this year.
Deputy Council Secretary at Maun Administration Authority (MAA) said the council did not float the tender but rather, “Requested for a direct procurement method for masks quotation to begin the process of buying masks for employees and Ipelegeng beneficiaries.”
“Three quotations were collected from those considered for direct procurement. One of the companies had 60 percent of its shares owned by Motswana and 40 percent owned by a Zimbabwean while the other two companies are wholly owned by Batswana, making a total of three companies that were to be considered,” Seemule explained.
According to the council the masks were to be procured for council employees including Ipelegeng workers, council staff who are returning to office following lockdown and other support staff.
However the request for quotations was halted by a complaint from the tailors of citizen owned companies.
About two weeks ago a group of tailors met NWDC’s secretary to lodge an official complaint over the alleged tender.
The women claimed that council instructed them to close shop while their competitors were secretly awarded the mask production and supply job.
Following the meeting, the women took their grievances to their area member of parliament, Dumelang Saleshando who then made an enquiry with council leadership regarding the said tender.
“Saleshando’s role was that of an enquirer. He wanted to verify if indeed masks were bought from a foreigner as alleged by a group of tailors who had asked for his intervention,” said Seemule.
Commenting on the matter Saleshando explained that a group of tailors in Maun did complain to him about what appeared to be an illicit award of tender and what he did was to approach the council and enquire about it.
Upon further investigations it was then revealed that the would be benefactor of this procurement was not a company wholly owned by Botswana citizen and that company the procumbent process was stopped.
Direct procurement was introduced at the beginning of the six months long State of Public Emergency to expedite the process of providing essential services, but many, especially politicians in the opposition parties maintained that it provided the ruling party and corrupt government officials with an opportunity to loot the public coffers.