Telecom Namibia says the lucrative telephone directory tender for which three companies bade is yet to be awarded and at the same time denied claims that TDS Namibia, which has held the contract for more than 10 years now, is at an advantage against the other two companies that are also vying for the N$230 million tender. Adforce Namibia, Namibia Directory and Media Supplies and TDS Namibia Directory Operations are the three companies competing for the tender.
According to the Tender Bulletin, Adforce tendered for N$232,689,299.90; Namibia Directory and Media Services (N$263,231,738.66) while TDS tendered for N$260,612,588.
The tender is for the compilation, supply and delivery of the print directory and advertising space for a period of five years commencing 2017/18 up to and including 2021/22 directory as well as development and maintenance of the online directory and sale of the advertising space.
Responding to questions this week, Telecom’s acting managing director Theo Klein said: “No, we have not concluded the award of the tender to any of the three bidders as yet. Still work in progress. We also want to further investigate and verify certain allegations made in the newspaper, first.
Note, no such issues were raised at my level by any of the tenderers, I am reacting on public allegations.”
There are fears that the fact that TDS has held the contract for so long places them at an unfair advantage against the other bidders, Klein however brandished such talks.
“It is true that TDS had this contract for the past 10 years. That alone is by no means making them the preferred or favoured supplier, else we would not have published the tender.
We are constantly striving to get such services at the best quality and best price. Should the process confirm that TDS best fits the requirements of Telecom Namibia at the best price, we should accept it as such,” he said.
He said every time the tender(directory) is published it attracts a lot of attention, “understandably, as everybody is desperate for work.”
“We would like to see 100% local companies rendering this service to TN, provided that such a company can provide the service, provide it at the right specification and quality standards and at the right price.
This is what the tender evaluation is mainly focusing on,” Klein said.
He expressed disappointment as well, saying: “Our governance structure and procurement processes are there to ensure it done so in a transparent and fair basis. It is disappointing that allegations are made publicly without facts, proof and exhausting internal channels first.”
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 that there are some ‘abnormalities’.
Telecom admitted that all three bidding companies submitted incomplete documentation after 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,” Nekundi said at the time.
“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 said during an earlier interview.
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 certificate 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% 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 the first time TDS Namibia is embroiled into 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.”