E150m tender saga continues
MBABANE – The E150 million Royal Science and Technology Park saga continues, despite assurances from both Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini and Minister Winnie Magagula that it has been adequately resolved.
The Times SUNDAY has since established that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) government has cited as an excuse for the decision to suddenly award the tender for construction of the project to a company that had initially not been chosen, was not valid.
Angelique International, an Indian company was recently given the tender even though, initially, government had awarded it to a company known as Jaguar Overseas.
The MoU was known for Conceptualisation, Design, Construction and Handholding.
The agreement was that the Swazi government would award any business that had to do with the technology park only to Angelique.
The technology park is to be constructed at Nokwane, near Matsapha.
It is one of the projects to be constructed within the fully-fledged Royal Science and Technology Park.
It is described as Phase 1 of the whole RSTP project.
This newspaper understands that the MoU was signed in October 2010, with the agreement between government and the company expected to run for 18 months.
In essence, this meant it would expire in March 2012.
Government has also confirmed these findings.
Substantiating the reason why it awarded the tender to Angelique Company, government had said it was avoiding a breach of the subsisting MoU by turning around to give the tender to Angelique.
Last week, Nathaniel Mahluza Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, said a breach of the MoU would have led to a lawsuit against government.
He had said the existence of the MoU was brought to gover-nment’s attention when preparations for the award had reached the final stages.
He conceded that recommendations and tender evaluations were in favour of Jaguar Overseas until the last minute where the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporations produced the MoU.
It has emerged, however, that the said MoU expired in March 2012 while government announced the award to Angelique three months later.
Government essentially contradicted itself by citing the MoU as a ‘binding’ agreement.
There are now complaints regarding the RSTP tender.
Anil Sharma, General Project Manager for Jaguar Overseas, said they believed that there had been an interference regarding the award.
"We have been unfairly treated and there has been a lot of interference," he said.
Mtiti Fakudze, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, yesterday said he knew nothing about the MoU.
"I am yet to check with my officials about the MoU you are asking me about," he said.
"What I know is that the RSPT tender was awarded to Jaguar Overseas and that after this, the EXIM (Export and Import) Bank of India asked that the tender be advertised to allow other companies to bid for the project. I don’t know what is happening now. Iyangehlula lendzaba," said the minister.
He said he did not know anything about the MoU and that the matter could best be explained by the Ministry of ICT.
PS Mahluza on Friday said if the ministry had been aware of the MoU, the tendering exercise would have not been conducted in the first place.
"It is a fact that the MoU has expired. However, it is effective because at the time it expired, the bidding exercise was ongoing," he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Winnie Magagula on Thursday told editors that the tender issues had been put to rest since the award has been made.
Times Sunday Editor Innocent Maphalala however, asked the Prime Minister if he was satisfied with the way the entire process had gone.
In response, the Premier said: "The issue began in 2007 and was being dealt with until now. There was an uproar in 2011 when the tender was awarded and the financier suggested that it should be started afresh because it was not an open tender but a single source. There was then an open tender and professionals conducted it, then handed their chosen winner to the tender board which forwarded the name to the ministry. Due process was followed, that’s all I can say,"
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