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.