By: Kelvin Chiringa
A Namibian owned tech-company, Virtual Technologies, has accused the tourism ministry of victimization after its N$3 million tender for the provision of access control system and surveillance cameras was cancelled and readvertised.
The ministry wanted to install CCTV cameras around its Head Quarters, The Villager has learnt.
At the centre of the tender storm is the ministry’s executive director, Teofilus Nghitila, who has been accused of abusing his power to elbow out Virtual Technologies from the second round of the bidding process.
The Villager has seen the company’s letter dated the 31st of August 2021 to tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, the finance ministry’s Public Procurement Policy Unit, the Ombudsman and the Anti-Corruption Commission in which it claims that it has now been left out of the new tendering process.
Virtual Technologies’ executive chairperson, Toivo Katuta, said they were one of the three companies that gave in their bid application by the 12th of November 2020.
He said they were awarded the bid after attending all compulsory site meetings and meeting all criteria as per the restricted bid document.
He said the company was informed by the ministry that the bid had been cancelled on the 10th of March 2021 and that the process would restart.
Katuta said a successful bidder was set for selection out of five other companies that were initially reserved to partake in the tender.
“We learnt that the public entity has commenced with the process and has reached out to some of the reserved companies, however, we have not been notified of any process regarding this bid by the public entity, nor have we been invited to attend any meetings pertaining to the bid restarting process.
“Therefore, we feel we are being victimized and alienated by the public entity by not including us in the new process as a result of the review application we submitted to the review panel on the 16th of March 2021 in terms of Section 55 (5) of the Procurement Act of 2015 on reviewing the public entity decision to cancel and restart the entire bidding process,” said Katuta.
Virtual Technologies accused the tourism ministry’s executive director, Nghitila of being conflicted, saying he was part of the evaluation committee, contrary to Section 26 of the Procurement Act, 15 of 2015.
“It became apparent to us that the executive director had a conflict of interest in the matter as he was the one who had instructed the public officials at the public entity to cancel and restart the bidding process.
“The executive director cannot form part of the evaluation committee. The bid evaluation committee is the only one which has the power to cancel and restart (the) bidding process to avoid any conflict of interest
“The executive director is not allowed to make such a decision yet he did. Moreover, we have learnt through the review hearing that the executive director has held various suspicious meetings pertaining to this restricted bid and would coerce public officials into carrying out his decisions including cancelling of the bid award, as he is above the public officials in ranking.
“He was making decisions outside the bid evaluating committee which is the one (which) should be (spearheading) the bid evaluation process. Therefore, we feel that he is again abusing his position to favour one of the notified companies and at the same time abusing his position to alienate us from the bidding process,” Katuta said.
The company, which says it employs 45 Namibians, has said they are now questioning Nghitila’s integrity in carrying out his role as a public official.
Katuta said that they have failed to understand why they were left out from the new bidding.
“(We) believe that it is because the executive director is angered by our review application against the decision he made to cancel and restart the process and this is his way of punishing us for carrying out our constitutional rights,” he said.
However, Nghitila has laughed off the accusations from Virtual Technologies.
He denied being involved in the process but said he only chipped in where there were disputes between parties.
“My understanding is that all the bids were sent out to all vetted companies including Virtual Technologies.,” he said.
Nghitila said there were objections in the first round of the tender which was heard by the procurement unit at the ministry of finance resulting in the tender being re-advertised.