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MANZINI – As allegations are being levelled against personnel at the Treasury Department, some suppliers are blaming their counterparts for paying bribes in order to be awarded tenders.

This publication yesterday published an article, wherein some entrepreneurs were narrating their challenges when seeking to be paid by government. The service providers and suppliers insinuated that they were frustrated at the Treasury Department, when they were not willing to succumb to the unscrupulous means which would propel them to receive their payments on time. The businesspeople claimed that some officers demanded a ‘hand lotion’ of 10 per cent of whatever amount the supplier would be receiving. Others claimed that they paid E20 000 for the officials to facilitate their payment. As these claims by the entrepreneurs surfaced and many were willing to share their frustrations with this publication, others within the business community called for an introspection within the sector.


They claimed that the corruption had reached such levels because those who were eager to be awarded any available tender had at instances committed to paying 10 per cent bribes in order to succeed. One of the entrepreneurs said they (businesspeople) were to blame because they compromised their ethics when seeking to win a tender and even arranged to inflate the prices of their commodities with the said percentile, in order to appease those who facilitated their ‘victories’ at that instance. He said: “Some of the people responsible and or within the various ministries who regularly seek goods and or services disclose that some of the suppliers have committed a certain amount in order to win the tender. If you fail to beat that amount, chances are you will lose.”

In fact, the businessman said the bidding started among them before the tender documents were even opened and evaluated. He said this was because, among them, they were willing to engage in any behaviour just to get business. He said given this culture, which was started by their counterparts, the chain within the procurement system had grown accustomed to a certain amount in order to facilitate what was expected of them. “I was once informed that a competitor had committed a certain amount and when I informed the officer that my company only offered E250 for lunch when the meeting was held outside the office; the officer seemingly felt insulted.”


The entrepreneur said the corruption issue within the procurement sector was so imbedded that even entrepreneurs had to be arrested in order to curb the rot. On the other hand, other businesspeople raised varying testimonies on the challenges they faced at the Treasury Department. They claimed that Tuesday’s and Thursdays were the worst as it was when the department was making payments. One of the entrepreneurs supposed that some of the personnel at the department had agents who made the run-arounds and collected the money needed in order to facilitate the payments. The businessman said the ‘hand lotion’ was within all critical stages of the payment chain, such that when they did not succumb to the demand, they were frustrated, for periods in excess of three months.  

The testimonies of the varying experiences by the entrepreneurs were subsequent to an article wherein it was reported that corruption and rot at the Treasury Department was said to have escalated to a point whereby suppliers had to solicit assistance from influential members of society for them to be paid. Some of the suppliers who had to resort to external intervention in order for them to be paid for services rendered had to request members of the royal family and or Cabinet ministers as they were supposedly given a run-around by officials. One of the aggrieved parties, who contacted this publication following its report on a female civil servant, who was allegedly siphoning money from government coffers by transferring large amounts into her child’s bank account, said getting a payment from government through the Treasury Department was a huge challenge.

BE to suppliers: Report corruption cancer to police

MANZINI – Business Eswatini (BE) has encouraged suppliers with incontrovertible evidence to approach the police as corruption was a cancer. BE was responding to a questionnaire seeking to establish if there had been any of their members, who had reported and/or raised concerns of being frustrated at the Treasury Department with demands for a ‘hand lotion’.
In response to this, BE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nathi Dlamini, said they were not aware of any specific complaint of corruption against the Treasury Department and as such, none of their members had approached their offices to lodge a complaint .

However, Dlamini said: “If this be true and is supported with incontrovertible evidence, we would, therefore, encourage them to go straight to the police because corruption is a cancer that needs to be uprooted wherever it is.” Dlamini said as a private sector, they were not blind to the fact that corruption was rampant in the country, and this was really sad, because study after study had shown that corruption was one of the major causes of poverty in most countries; which was why it was something that had to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.  He said: “Corruption is antithetical to the values and ideals which BE stands for.”

Meanwhile, after the Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, in July announced that government had paid suppliers E2.8 billion in a week, Dlamini said BE embarked on an exercise to verify the assertions by the minister.  He said they did this by making random enquiries with their members, specifically those known to be owed by government. While BE’s findings were interesting, according to Dlamini, they confirmed that many of their members received payments, while some received partial payments and others nothing at all. “That was odd. We dug deeper into the matter and discovered that some of the invoices that were not paid seem to have not been sent to the Treasury Department by the other ministries, for whatever reasons which are unbeknown to us. In other cases, it seems ministries had sent partial invoices, while leaving others behind, which perhaps explains why other creditors were not paid.”


One verifiable example, he said, was of a property rental company that received only six months rentals out of 12.  He said the same company had business dealings with other institutions, which in turn could not meet rent payments as they too, had not received payment from government.  Dlamini said the domino-effect of these liabilities, both public and private, were far-reaching in terms of the havoc they wreak in the economy; which was why BE encouraged government ministries to search for possible invoices in their drawers and have them dispatched to the Treasury Deparetment as a matter of urgency. “Invoices stacked in the drawers of officials may possibly conceal the magnitude of government’s indebtedness to the public,” he added.

Ministry appeals for proof from entrepreneurs

MANZINI – The Ministry of Finance is appealing for proof from entrepreneurs, of officers seeking bribes, in order to get to the bottom of the matter. Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg requested the entrepreneurs to assist with credible information in order for government to weed out any acts of corruption. Rijkenberg said it was hard to deal with rumours if there was little or nothing substantiating them.  “At Treasury at the moment, the best way to stop these claims of corruption, is by paying all the outstanding bills,” he said. This, he said, would curtail the need for some suppliers to supposedly request being moved from the bottom of the list to the top. The minister wondered why suppliers would be willing to pay a bribe when they were paid within 30 days.

Rijkenberg said government was dealing with arrears and were being paid without having to wait a longer period now.  The minister said most of the suppliers had been paid and government was doing almost everything possible to ensure that they were being paid on time. It is worth noting that at the beginning of July, this publication reported that government had reportedly paid all its suppliers arrears of about E2.8 billion. Rijkenberg announced the settling of the money owed to suppliers and service providers of the various services provided to government in a press briefing.

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