Telecom Namibia’s acting managing director, Theo Klein, yesterday clarified allegations of tender irregularities surrounding the lucrative telephone directory tender for which three companies bade. Member of Parliament and secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League, Veikko Nekundi, in July wrote to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, requesting him to probe the Telecom Namibia directory tender, alleging some “abnormalities”. Klein, however, stated that all three bidding companies submitted incomplete documentation. Nekundi alleged that weeks after the closing date of the tender and tenderers having submitted their closed bids, Telecom contacted the tenderers to submit their Good Standing Certificates, whereas such documents were to be submitted during the closing and submission of the tender documents.
“In this particular case, there were three tenderers. All three of them had submitted incomplete documentation accompanying the commercial offer. We had two choices, to disqualify all three tenderers and re-advertise the tender or to give all three tenders the opportunity to submit the outstanding supporting documents by a set due date. We thought it fit, to give all three the chance to submit the outstanding supporting documents like company registration certificate, good standing certificate with the receiver of revenue,” Klein explained. He further added that “there is no need to write to the Minister of ICT on such a matter because “Telecom Namibia exercises proper governance in following its procurement policy”. “Any of the bidders had the right to enquire about the status of the tender evaluation or enquire on any issue pertaining to the tender, through the Tender Secretariat of TN [Telecom]. The process is open and transparent and all tenderers are treated equally and fairly. The only interest of TN is to procure the goods or services at the best quality and best price to the company,” he said.
Nekundi, in his letter to Tweya in which he called for a probe, said the late calls for the documentation came despite Telecom spelling out the mandatory requirements, of which the submission of a Good Standing Certificate was one. He said there are suspicions that one of the tenderers failed to submit their Good Standing Certificate. “The said company is the preferred company by some of the persons dealing with the tender, thereby manipulation [is] at play despite the suspected company having failed to comply with the tender requirement,” said Nekundi. “I am further informed that the said situation prevailed five years or so ago, and it looks to repeat itself. In the context above, I hereby humbly request your good self to investigate these serious allegations and to intervene in order to ensure that all tenderers are fairly treated and that no manipulations take place. Further, that the tender not be cancelled as a manipulative mean,” Nekundi said. Telecom’s procurement policy states that tenderers must be registered with the Registrar of Companies and they must provide a certificate of shareholding, registered for payment of Value Added Tax with the Commissioner for Inland Revenue, registered with the Social Security Commission and be in good standing with the Social Security Commission. In 2012 Telecom formally signed a memorandum of understanding for the engagement of an advertising agent for the Telecom Namibia Print Directory with TDS Namibia (Pty) Limited.
TDS Namibia is a joint venture between Trudon and Ripanga Investment Holdings, a Namibian BEE entity with 25 percent equity in TDS Namibia. As per the agreement, TDS Namibia serves as the advertising agency for the Telecom Namibia Print Directory responsible for its compilation, which includes the design, sales, marketing and production of the entire Telecom Namibia directory on the basis of information supplied by Telecom Namibia.
Media reports at the time revealed that TDS Directories Namibia was not in good standing with the Receiver of Revenue at the time of submitting the bid after failing to submit tax returns for 2010. The company reportedly did also not submit its Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) return for 2012 as well as for 2007 and rather chose an even period payment system whereby their VAT payment has to be done at the end of every two months. This is not be the first time TDS Namibia is embroiled in good standing issues regarding the same tender.
In 2007, according to a report in The Villager newspaper, then DTA Member of Parliament, Johan de Waal reportedly told fellow parliamentarians that the company, only registered for VAT on February 6, 2007, – some seven months after the closing of the tender; although it was a tender specification that companies applying for it should submit proof of VAT registration.”