Senator's E2.2m tender puzzle
MBABANE – Senator Ngom’yayona Gamedze has put the new Procurement Act of 2010, which prevents politicians from participating in public procurement, to test.
The Act bars politicians and civil servants from supplying government or parastatals.
Gamedze’s family company, Song and Lindiwe (PTY) Ltd, has won a tender worth over E2 million from the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE).
SWADE awarded Song and Lindiwe the tender worth E2 255 387 last month.
The tender awarded to the legislator’s family company is for bush clearing and land preparation for an area called Luphiko.
The company was expected to prepare the land for a cassava and sugarcane project for local farmers.
It will clear a bushy piece of land in the lowveld region amounting to 111 hectares.
In an interview on Wednesday, Gamedze said there was nothing wrong with the tender award of the company because it was owned by indigenous Swazis who delivered on time whatever project they were given.
He also said he did not technically own the company.
He said he used to own it together with his wife but following the introduction of the Procurement Act, he resigned and transferred his shareholding to his son, to comply with the legislation.
According to information sourced from the Registrar of Companies office, the shareholders of the company now are Gamedze’s wife Lindiwe Nono Gamedze and the couple’s son Mpendulo.
The age of the son could not be established.
The legislator said he transferred the shares that were under his name to comply with the Act but admitted that he was effectively running the company.
He said with the present directorship, he believed that the company complied with the law, as far as dealing with government or parastatals was concerned.
"The legislation only bars politicians from participating in tenders but does not extend to their family members," he said.
Gamedze said his company has done nothing wrong because the law was silent on the family members participating in business with government.
When asked if the fact that the Act was silent on immediate family members participating in business with government, meant there was no conflict of interest if they did, Gamedze said the Act was not a law when Song and Lindiwe won the tender.
He said then, the Procurement Act was not yet in force.
When told that the Act was long passed by Parliament into law, the legislator said he was not aware of that information.
This is despite that His Majesty ordered a joint sitting of the august House to deliberate and pass the legislation into an Act of Parliament.
Parliamentarians were not exactly happy when the then Procurement Bill was presented to them for deliberation.
Most were particularly unhappy with the sections that sought to prevent them from dealing with government or public enterprises.
It was eventually passed, with an instruction from the throne after two failed attempts of a joint sitting.
"I do not remember it passing through Parliament. It was deliberated upon by both Houses in a joint sitting and I am not sure if it went through," said Senator Gamedze. His Majesty assented to the law late last year.
He said in any event, he had complied with the legislation because he was no longer the director.
"This is a Swazi owned company which has a history with working with SWADE. The company has all the equipment for the job it won a tender for," he said.
"The company has enough earthmoving equipment in bulldozers, trucks and TLBs."
Gamedze said Song and Lindiwe was ready to start work in fulfilment of the tender.
SWADE sees nothing wrong
MBABANE – Bafana Dlamini the acting Chief Executive Officer of SWADE says there was nothing wrong with the tender awarded to Song and Lindiwe.
This company used to be directed by Senator Ngom’yayona Gamedze but now only has his wife and son as directors.
Dlamini said when the tenders were awarded, the Procurement Act of 2010 had not come into effect.
He said for the law to be official, there was a need for it to be published in a gazette.
The CEO also said SWADE did not have a policy that could have been used to disqualify Gamedze’s company in the tender.
He said such a policy was being developed internally and it shall comply with the new Procurement Act of 2010.
Dlamini also said it was going to be unfair for SWADE to divorce itself from Song and Lindiwe because when the tenders were advertised, there was no stipulation on politicians’ companies non participation in the jobs.
"Penalising their companies without telling them in advance about the developments would have had far-reaching legal implications," he said. He said the public enterprise was cognisant of the new law when deliberating on the tenders.
"We consulted the Ministry of Finance about this and were assured that we could use the politician’s company because the law was not in force then," he said.
He specifically spoke to the Tender Board.
‘This is a matter for the courts’
MBABANE – Khabonina Mabuza, Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance, says the Procurement Act is now in force.
The PS chairs the Tender Board.
She said the law was operational and expected politicians and government entities to adhere to it all times when procuring goods on behalf of government.
Mabuza said as per the Act, it was a violation of the law for politicians to participate in business dealings with government or its entities.
She also said politicians who were found to have contravened the law would be taken to task based on provisions of the Act, as there were penalties for such offences. When asked specifically about the procurement issue involving politician Ngom’yayona Gamedze’s family company, which won a tender from a company owned by government, she said the law was against this.
"That is a subject of the courts to determine and interpret the law but off the cuff, I can say it is not proper that a company owned by his immediate family can do business with government," she said.
This is not fair. This comany is owned by Ngoma and his wife according to what Im reading now on this newspaper. This son who has no age or even a National pin number does not exist. Mpendulo is Ngom'uyayona himself , that is his real name. Im sure his passport and academic documents has Mpendulo Gamedze on them as his name. Ngom'uyayona is his long existing nickname from soccer. He used to be a gooal keeper and when his team the then 'Siphofaneni Young Bombers' was losing he would beat the opponents and spoil the game. Thus he became Ngom'uyayona. Utawuyenga labangati tsine simatiko ngeke asiyenge.
May 27, 2012, 3:00 AM, pj (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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