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Senior officers suspended over flouted procurement

Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism have confirmed the suspension of eight senior officers pending investigations over possible contravention of laid down procurement procedures.

The suspended officers are Senior Manager, Procurement Manager, Finance Manager, Manager HR and Admin, Deputy Manager Procurement, Assistant Manager Procurement, Principal Procurement Officer and Assistant Procurement officer.

Initially, Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS)- Corporate Services, Goitseone Madikwe, was also among the suspended officers but he was exonerated and returned to work two weeks later.

The other officers are on suspention for allegedly flouting procedures when purchasing 13 vehicles from Motor Centre.

The eight are reported to have paid for 13 Landcruiser vehicles, but only managed to have seven of them delivered before lockdown while the other six were delayed.

Justifying why they quickly paid for the vehicles in advance, the source said the team was under pressure to exhaust the budget before the financial year-end in April.

‘Had they not paid for the cars before end of March, the money was going to be returned to the Ministry of Finance and they were going to get into trouble for non-performance. One would wonder why this is a big deal since the cars will be delivered anyway?’ he asked.

In another disputed procurement incident, one of the suspended officers told The Voice that the Principal Procurement Officer was told to request for a quotation for 150 thermometers so they could be compliant with Covid-19 regulations.

He said the team was told the matter was urgent and that the delivery had to be made within three days, so a request for quotations from three companies was made on June 08th and the DPS approved it.

“We were surprised on Monday when the DPS said we must stop the order since the Permanent Secretary, Dr Oduetse Koboto had said he was not consulted and he did not approve.

“We had already faxed purchasing orders and suppliers delivered thermometers. However, the DPS ordered us to return the consignment but two suppliers refused to accept the goods. Meanwhile the Corruption and audit department called the Principal Procurement Officer and her assistant for questioning and sent the finding to the PS. On the 13th, we received suspension letters,” he said.

It has emerged however that the PS queried the purchasing of one thermometer at an exorbitant cost of P2, 200.

Justifying why they quickly paid for the vehicles in advance, the source said the team was under pressure to exhaust the budget before the financial year-end in April.

‘Had they not paid for the cars before end of March, the money was going to be returned to the Ministry of Finance and they were going to get into trouble for non-performance. One would wonder why this is a big deal since the cars will be delivered anyway?’ he asked.

When reached for comment, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Koboto, referred this publication to the Public Relations Office.

The Ministry Public Relation Officer- Lesego Mesele Kgomanyane, confirmed that the Ministry has granted nine of its staff member’s leave of absence pending investigations.

She also mentioned that one person has since been cleared of wrongdoing and has been reinstated.

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