Boitekanelo drags UB to court

SHARE   |   Monday, 23 May 2016   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho
Dr Tiroyaone Mampane Dr Tiroyaone Mampane

An attempt by the University of Botswana  (UB) to cancel a multi-million pula catering  contract recently awarded to Boitekanelo Catering Services has backfired, with the latter filing an urgent application seeking the High court to reverse the decision. UB served Boitekanelo Catering  Services  Managing Director Dr Tiroyaone Mampane with a letter cancelling the contract on the May 11, 2016 a few days before a case in which long time caterers at the university, Moghul is suing UB over the  tender was to be heard. In the papers filed on Thursday at the High court, in which they challenge the invalidation of the tender,  Centre for Clinical Excellence ask court to review and set aside  the decision by UB and subsequently  declare the decision by UB to publish an invitation to tender  under  UBT 2016/2017-09 for the re-tender for provision of catering services for Block 121 refectory at the university’s main campus null and void.

On the other hand, the Center for Clinical Excellence  also want the court to order UB to prepare and deliver  to them a written  contract for their consideration and signature so as to implement  the tender . The matter will be heard on the 2nd of June 2016. Meanwhile when parties convened for the Moghul case at the High court before  Acting Justice Zein Kebonang on Wednesday, UB nipped the whole issue on the bud and offered to pay all parties (applicants and other respondents) ‘s wasted fees. But that was before Justice Kebonang left them with a stern warning of wasting everybody else's time. Kebonang  expressed concern that though it is clear that UB authorities could have resolved the  matter without coming to court  they waited  until the court case was registered and about to commence before they acted accordingly.

Kebonang’s assertion is supported by the fact that UB authorities ignored several written complaints from the Moghul inquiring and complaining about an alleged maladministration that took place in the tendering process. In a letter addressed to the  Managing Director of Boitekanelo Catering Services, Dr Tiroyaone Mampane, invalidating the  tender, the Secretary  of UB Finance Committee Davies Tele  fingered  the  then Deputy Vice Chancellor, Student Services  Dr Lydia Nyathi-Saleshando as the root cause of the invalidation. “It has been brought to our attention that  there was  an irregularity in the tendering  process at the level  of  the evaluation  committee in that the  Chairperson  (Deputy Vice Chancellor)chaired  three of the earlier evaluation meetings when she should  not have done so, in terms  of the University Tender Regulations and Procurement Procedures,” Tele wrote.

The concerned clause (4.4) in the University’s  Tender  Regulations and Procurement Procedures  which deals with  conflict of interest among others state that in the event  that a member  discloses  that he has an interest, such  member shall  recuse  himself  from  that portion of the meeting dealing with the tender.
It further state that  “ If  the Tender Committee discovers  that a member has failed  to declare  his interest and/or  to recuse himself at any stage  of the consideration, adjudication or evaluation of a tender and in the event that  such tender  has been accepted and/or  awarded, the Tender Committee shall be entitled to invalidate that tender, giving such consequential directions as it sees fit,”. According to Tele while the  Dr Nyathi-Saleshando  disclosed her interest, the matter  of concern  to the UB Finance Committee is that she failed to recuse herself  from the meeting dealing with the tender as per provisions of the university’s tender regulations and procurement procedures.

Although the invalidation of the tender by UB is premised on the fact that the former  Deputy Vice Chancellor did not recuse herself  at the level of evaluation committee the Moghul in their quest to acquire the invalidation  argued that there was evidence indicating that  Boitekanelo Catering Services was  not even in existence  when the tender itself was floated. In the filing notice, The Moghul ‘s Ahmad Siddiqi expresses his doubts about the existence of Boitekanelo  Catering Services  (PTY)  LTD  “ several  other companies / entities  submitted  their tenders as well, including  apparently  the 2nd respondent  and/or ,  as hard  as this may be, the 3rd respondents  who as noted  earlier  was only incorporated  on the 18th of March, 2016,” reads the founding affidavit. In his opposing affidavit, Dr Tiroyaone Mampane as the respondents’ Managing Director dismissed  Ahmad Siddiqi’s founding affidavit saying “ it  was laden  with rumours, false-hood and serious misapprehensions of both fact and law,”.

Contrary to Siddiqi’s allegations Mampane maintained that  the tender  was awarded to the Centre of Clinical Excellence (PTY) LTD  on the 19th  February 2016 and that it is the same company  which responded  to  the invitation to tender, and who was in existence at the time the invitation was floated
Meanwhile The Moghul’s legal representative Amon Moitshephi of Ndlovu & Moitshephi Attorneys  told this publication that they are still to map a way forward with his clients. It must be noted that my clients never said the tender should have been awarded to them, they however wanted UB to do things according to book hence they sought the invalidation of the tender,” he said.