….Deloitte probe exposes Toska Sem
….Advises NAC to ban some suppliers
A scathing Deloitte report into inside trading and fraudulent activities has revealed the extent to which the Namibia Airports Company’s(NAC) senior officials bent over backwards by ignoring procurement laws to help private companies loot the struggling aviation firm.
The report, which incriminates NAC Strategic Executive: Business Strategy Toska Sem, contains new information on how she allegedly shared company information with a private firm she had close ties with to ensure that the firm lands a N$2 million NAC tender.
The report exposed the close relationship between Sem and Corlen Masunda, the owner of Innovate Management Advisory and Excel Business Consultancy. It further probed if their ties were bonded “with the aim of establishing whether or not they had attempted to or committed procurement related irregularities in relation to NAC”.
Sem, who has worked for NAC since 2004, allegedly colluded with Masunda with the common objective of ensuring that the Strategic Plan Tender is awarded to Excel. The probe also found that Sem shared confidential information with Masunda during the course of tender consideration.
During July 2016, Toska prepared a submission to the NAC Tender and Technical Committee seeking an appointment of the five year strategic plan for NAC. In her submission, she recommended that Masunda’s firm be appointed to review and craft the NAC 5 year Strategic Plan at the value of N$2 045 000.00.
Sem, according to the report, recommended that the bidders that had been disqualified because of their failure to comply with the compulsory administrative requirements, including Excel, be granted an opportunity to submit their outstanding compliance documents.
“Although the MTTC (Management Tender Technical Committee ) stood by its decision to recommend that the tender be awarded to Bigen Kuumba, Mr El-Kallawi and/or Ms Sem failed to endorse the recommendation and to elevate the recommendation to the BTTC ( Board Tender Technical Commmitte ) as was required. Ms Sem remained in contact with Mr Masunda during the course of the consideration of the tender and shared information with him that was not available to the other bidders; and Ms Sem’s response that, “We will certainly push it the new way” and that, “We should be smart this time ….” warrants the inference that she would use her influence to promote Excel’s tender when it needed to be considered in terms of the PPA (“the new process”),” reads the report.
The report also states that NAC handed over the phone to the Deloitte investigation team. “Our eDiscovery team extracted the WhatsApp communications between Sem and Masunda that were still visible on the phone. Other messages were deleted.”
The report sheds further light on Whatsapp messages between Sem and Masunda in which she shares company information with Masunda related to the bidding process which other bidders were privy to.
It also provides a painstaking account of how the final technical and financial proposals submitted by Excel contained various amendments from the initial draft that had been emailed to Sem, one of which was that the total tender price had been increased from N$2 139 000 to N$2 936 640.
“On or about 6 December 2016, you downloaded the electronic version of a document dated 4 December 2016 with the subject line “Re: Facilitation of Namibia Airports Company Strategic Planning Process and Implementation Modalities” on your NAC-issued laptop.
The document constituted a draft proposal from Excel in response to the Strategic Plan Tender, which Mr Masunda and/or Excel had sent to your personal email address ([email protected]) and from where you downloaded the document to your NAC-issued laptop. According to the tender register for the Strategic Plan Tender, Excel submitted its formal tender proposals on Tuesday 13 December 2016 at 15h51,” reads Toska’s charge sheet dated 24 July 2017.”
Sem campaigns for Excel
It was found that Sem rigorously campaigned for Excel to land the lucrative tender and that she went out of her way to keep Masunda(Excel owner) updated with the latest developments around the award process.
When the Management Tender and Technical Committee(MTTC) of NAC considered the bids that had been received in response to the Strategic Plan Tender in February 2017, it invited Sem to present her views on the bids to the committee.
The Patriot understands that Sem recommended that the Strategic Plan Tender be awarded to either Excel or Lufthansa, however, the Management Tender and Technical Committee disqualified both Excel and Lufthansa because of them having failed to comply with the mandatory administrative requirements.
The MTTC recommended to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAC to recommend to the Board Tender and Technical Committee to award the Strategic Plan Tender to Bigen Kuumba, a recommendation with which Sem disagreed.
In March 2017, Sem made a submission to then NAC CEO Tamer El-Kallawi regarding the strategic plan tender in which she opined that the MTTC “had failed to “exercise its mind strategically to ensure that NAC appoints the best company to deliver on this consultancy”.
She further recommended in the submission that the Management Tender and Technical Committee be directed to request compliance documents from all the companies that tendered and re-evaluate all the tenders and provide a recommendation to the office of the CEO within 14 days.
After El-Kallawi endorsed her submission, she went on to present the submission to the MTTC at its meeting held on 31 March 2017. However, to her disappointment, the committee resolved to stand by its original decision to recommend the award of the tender to Bigen Kuumba.
“Despite the above, the CEO failed to present the Management Tender and Technical Committee’s recommendation to the Board Tender and Technical Committee resulting in the Strategic Plan Tender never being awarded to any bidder,” states the charge sheet.
Sem seeks relief
Sem has since approached the Labour Court in a bid to save her job, adding that NAC did not comply with its own policies when she was suspended.
She also maintained that she is innocent of any wrongdoing.
“I declare that as far as my conscience is concerned I have a clear conscience. I have never indulged myself in any wrongdoings as alleged in the suspension letter served onto me by Mr. Haifidi. Hence, such allegation exit(sic), which I doubt is the case to be presented to me within a period of 7 working days as from receipt of this letter, failure to that NAC to reinstate me in my position as Strategic Executive Commercial Services as duly appointed by NAC,” said Sem who added that her suspension was unprocedural.