By Thina Katangana
“We do not see any legal or legible reason to cancel the Cleaning Service Tender as advertised and opened on 12 August 2019.
We have not violated any of the provisions of the Procurement Act 2015 and where there was a human error, it was corrected in the absence of no violation that warrants the cancellation of the tender, we are therefore continuing with the process as provided for in the Act,” is the response Milka Mungunda, Chief Executive Officer of the Social Security Commission wrote to RRR Investments CC, when they, among other entities, complained of the irregularities that are rampant in the tendering process at the commission.
The Patriot reported earlier this year on the ineffectiveness of the commission’s online services, due to the fact that Social Security Commission had taken the decision to upgrade its system and to acquire new equipment last year, which resulted in some changes which in turn resulted in some inconveniences for their clients.
“This process took a bit longer than we initially anticipated. However, the process is now under control and we are only upgrading our data, although the pace is now slower. We hope to complete the entire process in less than a month to reach the required pace as per planning,” said Mungunda at the time.
Difficulty seems to continually plague the commission, this time with uproar concerning the amounts that are being charged for tenders and the tendering process.
Several letters have been written to the commission and to the Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Finance.
The letters allege that SSC are incompliant with the Public Procurement Act of 2015, specifically in the context of a Cleaning Services bid which closed on the 12th of August 2019.
Allegations are that the bidding documents were overpriced at N$300; that several bidders requested a list of names and tender amount which they were never provided with; that the SSC exceeded the standards set out in Section 28 and 29 which negatively impacted on applicants; that the bidding documents were incomplete and did not give clear guidance thus rendering them difficult to comprehend, among others.
The SSC in turn responded that it is “in full compliance with Section 51(1) (5) of the Act pertaining to the Cleaning Tender.”
According to Sections 28 and 29, where bids are openly advertised some criteria have to be met. Bids should be in a newspaper with wide circulation, in the public procurement portal accompanied by a prescribed disclaimer among others.
SSC replied that they had in fact advertised in widely circulated newspapers, further stating that “the website of the SSC is still under construction. In our (SSC’s) view, the website is a portal of communication to bidders in a more convenient way and if this is absent or not functional, the public entity must find alternative methods of communication. SSC communicates to all bidders the outcomes of the procurement transactions as prescribed by the Act.”
The system at SSC has been compromised intermittently since June 2018 when a leak exposed the personal information of thousands of Namibians. It has been completely offline since June of this year.