- Government obliged to buy 85% of exaggerated estimates in Frame-work Tender - Ministry says PPADB vetted the tender - Government to lose millions in unused implants eventually

A can of worms has burst open at the Ministry of Health in a tender involving the supply of Orthopaedic and Surgical Implants to Referral and District Hospitals.

Investigations by Botswana Guardian have revealed that ‘Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB 6/13/21-1)’ obligated the government to commit to buying 85 percent of the tender estimates which is contrary to the public procurement laws that prohibit the government from committing to any value in a framework contract.

Responding to Botswana Guardian inquiries, the Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Christopher Nyanga confirmed that the government will be obliged to procure 85 percent of the estimates in the tender.

He insisted that “the necessary procedure was followed” and that the tender was also “vetted accordingly”, including by the PPADB. He said that the government “will only buy when in need of the materials for the duration of the contract. Therefore, Government cannot be unduly disadvantaged”.

Sources have revealed that the response by the ministry is contradictory and unconvincing because, with an 85 percent procurement obligation, the government will be disadvantaged when there is no demand or requirement but is still forced to purchase the items leading to a loss of millions worth of unused and eventually expired items.

It remains contentious how a tender with such glaring irregularities was vetted by the PPADB. There are further allegations that the tender was schemed to favour large companies as one of the requirements for participation in the tender was to have P10 million credit facility.

The ministry confirmed that this is a standard business practice. However, investigations by Botswana Guardian reveal that no tender has previously had such inordinate capital requirements.

Asked whether the requirement to have a credit facility of millions was prohibitive to smaller citizen-owned companies, the ministry responded that, “by virtue of this tender being a highly-capital intensive one, it then follows that only well-established companies with enough capital would tender for it. However, some smaller companies still did bid for this tender”.

It has been contended that the tender was restraining for smaller companies as the ministry believed from the onset that only well-established companies with enough capital would tender for it.

The contentions of maladministration seem ceaseless for this tender as it has also been alleged that the tender was a framework contract for five years, which was unreasonably and unjustifiably long.

The ministry did confirm that the tender is a framework for five years. When queried which other supply tenders floated by the Ministry of Health have been framework contracts for five years, Dr. Nyanga conceded that the ministry has mainly had framework contracts lasting for three years.

He said some of these ended in the last two months. Yet, why only this specific tender was for five years, remains a secret!