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MBABANE – Revealed! With South African investigators probing 102 suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE), over damning allegations that politically connected individuals won lucrative COVID-19 tenders amounting to over R1 billion, taxpayers in the Kingdom of Eswatini will have to part ways with at least E112 million in respect of all COVID-19 tenders so far.

The National Disaster Management Agency ( NDMA) is reported to have already exhausted its budget and is waiting for the release of another E102 million, which is a loan from the World Bank.

The bank is reported to have already approved US$6 million to assist the Kingdom of Eswatini in its efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19.

 The loan comes as emergency funding for a project that will help strengthen the country’s health system preparedness to respond to this and potential future emergencies.
Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg recently said the ministry of health was busy with drawdowns in preparation of the release of the fund.
The Times SUNDAY has gathered that the COVID-19 tenders were awarded by NDMA to either individuals or companies since the partial lockdown was effected by Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini on March 27,2020.

This was after His Majesty the King declared the coronavirus a national emergency. Notably, procurements were single sourced, meaning the tenders were not advertised.
Ever since His Majesty the King declared the coronavirus a national emergency, government introduced the ongoing partial lockdown, several companies and individuals have submitted orders which were paid by NDMA.

Quarter chicken meals amounting to E1 602 supplied by Nandos are part of the monies to be paid by taxpayers. Documents seen by the Times Sunday reflected that the chicken meals were ordered and supplied on May 16.
The documents further revealed that taxpayers would also pay E92 260 for packed lunch boxes and breakfast meals that were supplied by Fedics on May 9,2020.

Other companies that supplied food for His Majesty’s Correctional Service (HMCS) officers on the same date included  Buy N Save, which was expected to be paid E332 559.98.

There is also a catering company identified as Phumlile’s Outdoor catering, which supplied packed lunch boxes amounting to E4 800.
Another tender that has left more questions than answers is that of a supply of braai wors worth E4 830 that was supplied by Swaziland Meat Wholesalers. It is not stated which event required that amount of meat.

E182 000 for cops food

Another glaring tender is that of the supply of food for the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) officers by Buy n Save supermarket, amounting to E182 003.46. The purchase order marked as RFQ is dated April 24.

The Pigg’s Peak Hotel, which is a state-owned enterprise, has forwarded a purchase order for providing lunch, dinner and accommodation for COVID-19 patients. The hotel is expecting a payment of E513 875.25. Pigg’s Peak is currently one of the quarantine sites in Eswatini.
NamBoard will also get a share of E34 725 for the supply of fruits and vegetables.

The repatriation of students from Addis Ababa to KMIII which took place on April 22, will cost taxpayers E1.6 million. This money is for a tender that was awarded to Royal Eswatini National Airways.
The university of Eswatini (UNESWA) was also awarded a tender for the supply of surgical aprons amounting to E300 000 on April 15.
A tender for the procurement of liquid hand soap amounting to E1 million was awarded to Buy N Save.

While Eswatini Meat Industries is expected to receive E141 100 for the supply of stewing beef.
According to a report published by Eswatini Public Procurement Regulatory Agency (ESPPRA), the total amount of COVID-19 tenders is currently at E112 138 477.17. It has been stated that the tender list is incomplete and the list will be updated.
Madoda Mngometulu, Chief Executive Officer at ESPPRA, said they had to start publishing the list of COVID-19 tenders as per the recommendation of the law.

“As we have stated that we will have to update the list because these are not all the tenders issued,” he said.
Section 41 of the Disaster Management act of 2006, states that an audit of the national disaster fund shall be conducted within three months of the end of each financial year.

Section 41(2) states that “the auditor shall complete their audit of accounts of the fund within three months of the end of each financial year and shall include, in the report, assessments relating to the effectiveness and the administration of the fund.”

‘law must take it’s course if...’
Meanwhile, Mduduzi Gina, Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), said due diligence should be done to all the companies that have applied for tenders related to the coronavirus.

“If you give a company a tender, you are supposed to apply due diligence to test the capacity of that company and asses its capabilities to deliver the required product at a reasonable price,” he said.

“Companies are looking for business and the directors would do anything to get business from government once such an opportunity has been presented to them. It is therefore the duty of government, especially the tender board, to scrutinise the companies carefully,” he said.

Gina argued that if some of the companies that were awarded could be traced or followed, one would find that the directors were politically connected.
“As TUCOSWA we are saying if any procedure was flouted during the awarding exercise and the companies failed to deliver then the law should take its course. Underperforming and corruption should not be entertained during the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

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