By Megameno Shikwambi
The beleaguered Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) top brass has found its chief operations officer and chairperson of the tender committee guilty of a string of acts of corruption involving millions of dollars.
A disciplinary inquiry ruling chaired by lawyer Sisa Namandje, found that the two caused the entity to suffer financial damages in the region of N$3 152 150 by illegally awarding a N$1 million tender to a company called ST Freight Services Close Corporation.
According to documents seen by The Patriot, Harold Kaura and Cleophas Mbahijona, were found guilty on a charge of breach of trust, among a slate of other charges.
Kaura, according to disciplinary inquiry ruling documents seen by The Patriot, was NIP’s chief operations officer while Mbahijona was chairperson of the NIP tender committee and also served as Chief Financial Officer.
The scandal has also netted in the NIP Chief Business Strategy and Development Officer, Jennifer Kauapirura.
She is said to have approached ST Freight Services Close Corporation on 10 February 2016, with the knowledge of the two, culminating in the wrongful awarding of the tender to the company.
Kaura, as Chief Operations Officer supported the approval of exemptions from tender process, the procurement in relation to specimen transportation logistics from ST Freight Services.
The award of tender to ST Freight Services was in excess of N$1 million when compared to budget.
The tender committee on the strength of the presentations of Kauapirura and Kaura, granted and authorized heads of business unit concerned to appoint suitable suppliers and implementation of the project.
After the tender committee approval on 09 August 2016, Mbahijona, as chairperson of the tender committee, delivered an internal memorandum, requesting approval from the Chief Executive Officer, exemption from tender process, whilst fully being aware that the CEO had no authority to grant tender exemptions of procurement in excess of N$1 million.
The CEO is said to have approved the tender in breach of the Delegation of Powers Guidelines and the procurement policies and procedures.
The employees are further executed a memorandum of understanding with ST Freight in contravention of the contract and SLA Management Policy and Procedures, the inquiry found.
Kauapirura proceeded to approve an invoice from ST Freight to NIP in the amount of N$1 882 550 in contravention of the Delegation Policy, Procurement Policy and Contract Policy.
“The said amount was used to purchase four vehicles for ST Freight Services for usage in rendering transport service to NIP at a further fee, and the said vehicles were not registered in the name of NIP, instead in the name of ST Freight Services,” the documents show.
The vehicles were sourced from Pupkewitz.
Kaura and Mbahijona approved a purchase order and prepared an instruction to Standard Bank to transfer N$1 882 550 to ST Freight Services, the documents reveal.
According to NIP, did so “with full knowledge that ST Freight Services was not entitled to receive the aforesaid payment from NIP”.
According to the Inquiry, from October 2016 to March 2017 the employees either individually or collectively negotiated and approved payment in the sum of N$211 660 per month in favour of ST Freight Services.
This was payment of ST Freight’s rent, remunerations, insurance, admin and sundries, totaling N$1 269 600.
This approval was beyond and above their authority and without agreement between ST Freight Services and NIP, in contravention of the Delegation policy, Procurement Policy and Contract Policy of NIP. “The employees caused NIP to be defrauded or financially adversely exposed by ST Freight Services and as a result suffered financial prejudice and/or potential thereof in the sum of N$3 152 150 or lesser amount,” the documents show. The employees were also accused of failing to protect the employer’s interest, by failing to perform their duties in the best interest of NIP, failed to protect NIP’s financial interest and assets.
“The said (tender) award financially exposed your employer for a period of three years from 19 April 2017 to 18 April 2020, to a monthly fee of N$211 600 (inclusive of 15% VAT), aggregating to N$ 7 617 600,” the documents read.
The tender is said to have also been awarded without board approval.
The invoices made by ST Freight in the sum of N$211 600 and approved payments on a monthly basis from April 2017 until January 2018 caused further financial damage to NIP.
As a result of the conduct of the accused, the entity is said to have lost some N$7 617 600, the documents also read.
Further accusations against Kaura and Mbahijona are that a budget for furniture and fitting of NIP Head Office to the tune of N$11 087 332 was not approved by the board. Further allegations are that, without board approval, Kauapirura presented to the tender committee for the approval of a final quotation to procure furniture from Roma Kitchens, a South African entity, in the sum of N$5 574 370.15.
A tender of exemption was said to have also been requested for, which was not granted.
“Further, at the extra-ordinary meeting of the tender committee on 27 June 2016 at NIP, (Mbahijona) presented to the tender committee that Roma Kitchens was further appointed to provide materials and supervise joinery project so as to maintain consistency and uniformity. However, the tender committee did not decide on the matter due to lack of adequate information,” the documents read.
The NIP CEO is said to have later approved this tender, despite not having the powers to do so.
Roma Kitchens is said to have cashed in on some N$7 472 293.76.
However, Mbahijona was found to have been the main protagonist in respect of the Kitchen expenses and as such, Kaura was spared from being charged in connection with this.
On his own, Mbahijona has been accused of wrongfully and unlawfully approving the withdrawal and/or caused the withdrawal of N$10 million from the NIP Unit Trust Investment held at Old Mutual.
He got slapped with a dereliction of duty charge. This is said to have occurred on or about 22 November 2016.
Again on 22 June 2017, Mbahijona is said to have further unlawfully and wrongfully approved or caused the withdrawal of N$7 900 000 from the same Old Mutual based NIP Unit Trust without board approval.
The verdict delivered by lawyer Sisa Namandje on 27 August found both Kaura and Mbahijona guilty on all charges, except Kaura was found not guilty on charge 3 which dealt with breach of trust.