Winnie and the tender winner
BY MBONGENI NDLELA
MBABANE – The company that has been awarded the controversial E150 million Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP) tender has confirmed that Minister Winnie Magagula visited its premises three months ago.
Sunil Katam, Angelique International’s General Manager in Noida, India on Thursday confirmed that the minister visited the company’s premises.
He said it was standard corporate practice throughout the world to host delegates of institutions or government one sought to do business with.
"Angelique did not entertain the Minister. Angelique is a large corporation with successful operations and track records across continents, particularly in Africa across a wide cross-section of developmental projects. The Honourable Minister was invited to the corporate office of the company to provide a glimpse into sizes operations and strength of the company along with an interactive session with its technical team on developmental projects in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
"It is a standard corporate practice through out the world to host delegates of Institutions on governments you seek to do business with. Incidentally we are aware that another bidding company also hosted the minister during her visit," said Katam.
Anil Sharma, General Project Manager for Jaguar Overseas Company, on Tuesday said they were aware of Minister Magagula’s meeting with Angelique officials in India.
"We believe that was unfair on our part because Angelique is our competitor in the bidding exercise. We also believe that the meeting influenced the recommendations of the award. To us, it draws a picture that there has been influence in the whole setup of the award," said Sharma who is based in Mozambique.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini says the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP) project was initiated by politicians.
However, he said the decision to award the RSTP tender was independently taken by the tender board.
Last week, government awarded Angelique International the tender to construct the multimillion Royal Science and Technology Park.
The Science Park will be constructed at Nokwane near Bethany and is one of the Millennium Projects which His Majesty King Mswati III, is passionate about.
The award comes after a protracted bidding exercise between 14 Indian companies which had submitted bids for the project. Out of the 14 companies government shortlisted two, Jaguar Overseas limited and Angelique International.
The project is worth E150 million (about US$20 Million) and it is funded by the EXIM Bank of India.
The PM yesterday said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreements were strictly dealt with by Cabinet.
It has been gathered that the reason government awarded a tender to the company that had not been recommended by the evaluation team and was also regarded as not ‘fit’ for the project was because of a standing MoU which government signed in 2010.
However, aggrieved individuals and participants of the tendering exercise believe that there was political interference in favour of the tender winner.
A trip made by Minister Magagula to India three months ago has been questioned.
The PM agreed that Swaziland signed an MoU with Angelique International Company in 2010 but explained that the tender board does the award.
"The RSTP is one of the projects that were initiated by politicians," he said.
In a previous interview on Wednesday, the PM had said politicians were not supposed to get involved in the tender process.
He had also said Minister Magagula was not part of the exercise or tender process for the RSTP.
Ever since the award of the RSTP tender, some people want to know what happened when Minister Magagula went to India.
The minister went to that country together with her daughter Zandi and RSTP Project Manager Moses Zungu.
She had gone to India to attend a two-day conference under the Africa-India Conclave. This conference was held on March 1 and 2.
The Times SUNDAY has gathered that the minister’s trip together with Zungu was catered for by the government of India. However, Zandi was on a private trip.
This was confirmed by Nathaniel Mahluza, Principal Secretary in the ICT ministry.
An anonymous email forwarded to the Times made allegations against the minister, which cannot be repeated here because they have not been verified.
Mahluza said the minister went to that country on official business.
The PS said Zungu returned to Swaziland earlier than the minister who stayed on for a few more days. He attributed her stay to dealings with some of the businesses she had been assigned by government to talk to.
"I am not aware of what happened in India. The minister would be a better person to comment," he said on Thursday.
‘Yes, I travelled with my daughter’
MBABANE – Minister Winnie Magagula says her meeting with officials from Angelique Company in India had nothing to do with the RSTP tender.
She said while in India she met with many companies that wanted to do business in Swaziland.
Speaking through a telephonic interview yesterday from Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, the minister confirmed meeting officials from Angelique.
"I don’t see any issue if I left the hotel where I was booked and moved to another hotel. In India, I met with officials from Angelique and those from Jaguar Overseas. In fact, I met with close to 13 companies and the purpose of these meetings was business related," she said.
The minister explained that she went to India to attend to the AU-India Cooperation, which is an annual event.
She said even though the conference lasted only two days, she decided to spend more days there, which was her constitutional right.
Asked who sponsored her daughter’s trip to India, the minister said, "I don’t see how it is a problem that I travelled with my daughter. My daughter is also my PA (personal assistant),"
The minister said she did not sit in the tender evaluation team.
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