A suspected cartel of well-connected politicians and tenderprenuers have been milking Government of billions of dollars in kickbacks to fill their pockets from projects availed through the public procurement system, investigations by The Villager reveals.
Although The Villager could not independently verify exactly how much Government has lost since Independence to the new cartel of businesses that benefitted through passing kickbacks to corrupt civil service officials, people engaged feel the challenge affects economic growth.
Some of the individuals who are benefiting from the perpetual recycling of public tenders to the same companies are within the civil service, while most of the businesses that receive the major tenders are always willing to pay homage to the different individuals who use their influence to award the questionable tenders.
As a result of the connections some of the public tenders end up taking longer to complete while others are of substandard quality upon completion with no penalties effected.
Speaking to The Villager this week Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport Sankwasa James Sankwasa castigated the culture where a few connected individuals benefit from the public procurement system to the detriment of economic development. “We have seen buildings not completed in Namibia, buildings stopped at window height and buildings without roofs. Construction industry is severely affected by ‘Mr and Mrs’10 % because once the building is completed involving the ‘Mr and Mrs’ 10 % that the quality of the building is not what was initially tendered for,” Sankwasa said.
Sankwasa added that in most cases the State will find itself renovating most buildings constructed at great cost, as the quality provided by most of the tenderprenuers who work with those that need kickbacks are never quality enough.
Sankwasa reiterated that the there is an added 20% reserved for evaluation of quality of a product in the 100% that a tender is awarded for and it is not in the State’s interest that the outcome of the end product quality is always affected causing the state millions of dollars to renovated or rebuild the same building or road that has already been affected negatively due to corruption.
Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Tarah Shaanika, said recent utterances by President Hage Geingob denouncing a culture of corruption within the civil service is very encouraging.
However, he added that such denunciation should be followed by action against those found guilty.
He echoed that corruption creates unnecessary costs for the taxpayers and produces an unfair competition, while also kills genuine entrepreneurship and discourages hard work and professionalism. Shaanika added that because of this, businesses are treated unfairly and tender prices are inflated.
Considering that most funds used to develop infrastructure are borrowed, tender price inflation places unfair financial burden on the taxpayer including future generations who will ultimately pay back the borrowed money. He stressed that it is unfair to borrow money so that one or a few individuals can live a luxurious life at the taxpayers’ expense.
“The tender awarding process has lost credibility in the eyes of the public generally speaking. Many businesspeople believe that one only gets awarded a State contract if one knows someone within the decision making structures of Government or if one pays a bribe. This has made many businesspeople to lose confidence in the public procurement system because it is generally believed that the awarding of contracts is done even before tenders are advertised publicly. That is bad, even if that’s just a perception. The President’s statement will therefore go a long way in giving the public hope that things will not be allowed to continue as they appear to be currently. It will no longer be business as usual. The NCCI strongly supports the President’s stance on corruption and favouritism in our public procurement system,” he said.
President Hage Geingob recently voiced his discontent over corrupt people involved in the public procurement process, this right after reports about the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) handpicking a middleman for an N$150 million contract for the upgrading of surveillance and passenger processing systems at the Hosea Kutako International Airport and Eros Airport.
Raising his dissatisfaction over the tender procurement process during the official opening of the Walvis Bay Airport, Geingob said every cent of public funds that is put into infrastructural development needs to be well-spent, which means that there is a need for ideal procurement processes, which would ensure that government obtains the best value for public funds.
“This means there is no room for procurement processes which lack fairness or cost-sensitivity. This means there is no room for inexperienced or incompetent contractors who miss deadlines and deliver low-quality infrastructure. Value for money is the word. Most importantly, best value for government money means there is no room for the ‘Mr and Mrs 10%’, who are soliciting or accepting bribes,” Geingob said.
The issue of unfair tender procurement has been going on perpetually, but the Director of the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa did provide any response to The Villager by the time of going to print as he “needs more time to attend to the issues like this, because the media has developed a norm of misinterpreting information provided to them.”