- Local SAP Partners denied opportunity - IT Personnel at WUC allegedly involved in devious manipulation of the tender - South African company allegedly fronting for unqualifying local company - We fully complied with the Public Procurement Act - WUC

Corruption continues to rock Water Utilities Corporation’s (WUC) tender handling and processes, Botswana Guardian has learned.

A whistleblower within the state-owned enterprise has leaked information to this publication on corruption and devious manipulation in the tender at WUC ICT Road Map SAP Implementation Partner Tender No WUC 013 -2022.

Information received by Botswana Guardian is that in April 2022, WUC floated a tender Water Utilities Corporation ICT Road Map SAP Implementation Partner Tender No WUC 013 -2022. A key criterion for the tender was that the “Bidder must be at least an SAP Gold Partner”.

Botswana Guardian has seen documentation proving that the requirement for an SAP Gold Partner was mandatory and a disqualifying factor, implying therefore that any company not at Gold Partner level or above was automatically disqualified.

SAP is a Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing. SAP SE is a German multinational software company based in Walldorf, Baden-Wurttemberg.

It develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. SAP service partners are consultants or systems integrators (SIs) that provide strategic business consulting, system design, solution integration, and project implementation of SAP solutions.

Botswana Guardian established that no SAP partner in Botswana is at Gold level or above. This would have undoubtedly meant that no company in Botswana could bid for the tender even though the tender was reserved for local companies.

Information gathered by this publication shows that only one company made a bid for the tender (name withheld), an alarmingly low number in itself.

Even more startling is that the only company which made the bid is not even an SAP Partner at any level. Investigations have revealed that an entity in South Africa with the same name is an SAP Gold Partner. The tender is being

restricted to local companies with an SAP Gold Partner.

The source alleged that the tender requirement to be an SAP Gold Partner was put in place so that no local SAP Partner could bid for the tender because no SAP partner in Botswana is at the Gold level.

In such an event, the tender would be given to that one company that submitted the bid at inflated prices.

“It is not even an SAP partner. It is just a new company having the same name as another SAP Gold partner in South Africa. Through the corrupt deals with a few key personnel at the Information Technology department in WUC they are going to be given the tender at inflated prices as they are the only company that bid. This is a loss to the government”.

Botswana Guardian found that the company was indeed recently registered and it achieved a Gold Partner with SAP in such a short period of time, which is impractical given that other local SAP partners have not yet reached the Gold level despite much more years of service. It has also raised suspicions about whether the South African company of the same name is using the Botswana company to front for tenders in Botswana.

When quizzed further on the corruption part, the source added that “the representatives of that company (name withheld) are very close to few key IT personnel at WUC and “are always seen around our offices”.

The source said that the representatives were even involved behind the scenes in setting out the requirements and specifications of the tender!

“The requirements were made consciously and deliberately such that no local SAP Partner bids for the tender and the tender is awarded at highly-inflated prices to the company and the interested IT personnel gets a cut,” our source indicated.

This is not the first-time procurement at the Water Utilities Corporation has come under the spotlight. There have been numerous allegations of corruption involving water pipeline tenders.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs Bonolo Khumotaka resigned from her position and was quoted as saying she could not divulge information but didn’t want to be involved in corrupt issues.

Water Utilities did confirm that being an SAP Gold Partner was a minimum requirement of the tender given the complexity of the project, but declined to comment on other allegations regarding the tender because it is still under evaluation.

WUC Stakeholder Management and Communications Specialist, Beauty Mokoba said this tender was a public tender open to all interested parties and was published on the WUC Website and in local newspapers.

She revealed that the key objective of the tender is to procure the services of an experienced Service Provider with SAP Gold Partner status and Certified as SAP S4 HANA Implementor for the implementation of WUC’s SAP roadmap which is pivoted around the migration from the current SAP ECC6 to SAP S4 HANA and upgrading of underlying SAP modules, implementation of additional modules, master data clean-up and governance.

Explaining the levels of SAP Partner Mokoba said “SAP GOLD Partner – These are specialized SAP partners who professionally aid you in buying, implementing, servicing, and supporting the SAP solution, which best meets their unique requirements.

“SAP PLATINUM Partner – Is another new yet crucial level of SAP partners, which is based on a holistic partner management model, streamlined program levels, and the latest engagement model between the SAP and partner. This is the most intelligent and strategic level and deals with business cases approved by the SAP executive board.

“SAP SILVER Partner – They are specialized SAP partners who play a crucial role in assisting companies in succeeding with assisting SMB across all types of industries. They transform their client's business and help them identify, implement, and deliver SAP service and support best suiting their client/s needs”.

She indicated that in view of these it is clear that to implement any SAP products, the implementor should at a minimum be an SAP Gold partner and be explicitly certified to implement that specific product. According to Mokoba, it is important to indicate that for an organisation or company to be an SAP partner and an SAP solution implementor, it has to satisfy some requirements as dictated by SAP. WUC has no role in this, she said, adding that this is simply between an interested organisation and SAP.

“Please be advised that specific to this tender, WUC has fully complied with the Public Procurement Act of 2021, which states under Section 53 that all procurement needs to be conducted by open domestic bidding and under Section 76(1) that all works, services, and supplies procurement shall be reserved for citizen contractors.

“Finally, this tender is under evaluation, and details on bidders like other suppliers cannot be shared as these are third parties whose consultation and consent must be sought before sharing,” she said, in response to our enquiry.