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Namibia: Procurement Bill Sparks Heated Debate


AllAfrica.com

By Tonateni Shidhudhu

October 3rd, 2013

Windhoek — The Public Procurement Bill that is currently being debated in the National Assembly is likely to be rejected, following strong criticism by several MPs on both sides of the house.

Debate resumed on Tuesday on the proposed law. Lawmakers are unhappy with the way the Bill was drafted, arguing that the role of government and that of new institutions to be created under the proposed law is not clear, and that the Bill has the potential to disadvantage businesses that are run by black Namibians. The debate was delayed last week, when lawmakers requested a workshop on the Bill to get a clear understanding of what the proposed legislation entails.

Swapo Party MP Kazenambo Kazenambo criticized the Bill calling on the Finance Minister

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to refer it back to the drafters. “I don’t see how the Ministry of Finance as an entity and other ministries are involved in the procurement system. I don’t understand the role of the Procurement Policy Office, there are so many offices and it is not clear who is supervising who, [since] the functions and powers of these offices are overlapping,” he said.

Kazenambo wants the finance minister to clarify the role of the institutions that are provided for in the Bill and how they differ from one another and also questioned the status of the Central Procurement Board and whether it is going to function as a parastatal or under which category of governance it would be placed.

If the Bill is passed, it will create a Central Procurement Board (CPB) to replace the current Tender Board that has had its fair share of controversy over the years. Kazenambo also queried why CPB members are given unlimited powers, especially that of extracting information about anyone bidding for a public tender, including their financial records. “I am seeing scandals coming, we live in this country as business [people], we are subjected to harassment and discrimination and sometimes just because you are black, people question from where you got the money,” he said. In terms of the Bill the Procurement Policy Office wil have the responsibility of advising the minister on policies, guidelines, standards and manuals required to maintain an internationally competitive public procurement system in Namibia. The office will also be responsible for recommending thresholds, disqualifying, debarring and suspending suppliers and conducting investigations where necessary.

This, according to Kazenambo, if not handled properly, has the potential to discriminate against locally manufactured products, especially those from businesses that are run by black Namibians. He made it clear that he is not in support of the current format of the Bill and walked out of parliament following his contribution, returning only later.

Swapo Party Chief Whip Professor Peter Katjavivi said while the Bill appears to be a tool of empowerment for disadvantaged communities, particularly women and young people, there are still issues that need to be clarified or rectified. He warned against the bureaucratic delays that may occur due to the various structures provided for under the proposed law. “The multiplicity of entities within the Bill creates a worry over bureaucratic delays. If you have the Procurement Policy Office, the Central Procurement Board, the Procurement Committee, the Procurement Management Units and Bid Evaluation Committee, probably we do not need the bid evaluation committees, because procurement committees can as well evaluate bids,” argued Katjavivi.

Lawmakers also feel that not enough public consultation took place with stakeholders to enable them to provide their inputs. Swanu president Usutuaije Maamberua said although a few meetings were held during the drafting of the Bill, there is a need for broader consultation. He was also dissatisfied that the Bill aims to provide preferential treatment to bidders from the previously disadvantaged communities only, saying 23 years after independence the nation should move on and look at the burning social question of poverty based on a broader perspective. He said it is a pity that there appears to be class discrimination in Namibia in terms of the manner in which the economy is structured, which also needs to be addressed in the Bill. “What about a poor white person, if they fall under the lower class? I am proposing that we should not only look at the previously disadvantaged communities, but all people in the lower income categories irrespective of colour.”

Maamberua who is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts is also a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance. He questioned why the Bill is silent on the disposal of government assets, which is a function of the Tender Board. “The [proposed] Board (Central Procurement Board) does not have that function, which is a serious omission,” he observed and further pointed out that the Bill appears to be repealing only the current Tender Board Act 16 of 1996, but not other related Acts such as the Regional Councils Act, which also deals with public procurement.”

Presidential Affairs Minister Dr Albert Kawana adjourned the debate to next week Tuesday. Kawana is expected to offer guidance to parliament on the way forward on the contentious Bill. If the National Assembly is still divided, MPs will have to vote on whether to accept the Bill as it is or to reject it and to send it back to the finance ministry for amendment.

Canceling Out The ‘Background Noise’ On Egypt-Israel Relations


Minnesota Public Radio

by Dana Farrington, National Public Radio

April 29th, 2012

By ending a historic gas contract with Israel, is Egypt laying the groundwork for a fundamental shift in relations? Not quite, says Rob Malley of the International Crisis Group.

Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa, talks to NPR’s David Greene on Weekend Edition about last week’s announcement, which raised questions of political rifts. Malley says:

“What we’re seeing right now is a lot of noise, but no real change, partly because — if not essentially because — both the Israelis and the Egyptian security establishment believe that the relationship is critical for both of them.”

Israel and Egypt signed the historic Camp David peace treaty in 1979, and The Associated Press reports:

“While relations have never been particularly warm, the quiet border has been critical for the security of the two neighbors. Egyptian energy exports to Israel and other business ties have helped keep the peace.”

NPR’s Sheera Frenkel reports for Weekend Edition that the gas deal was signed in 2005 and intended to last for at least 15 years. Reuters calls it “the most significant economic agreement to follow” the 1979 treaty and Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994.

Israel has been getting about 40 percent of its gas from Egypt, according to the AP, yet Egypt said last Sunday that it was ending the gas contract. Government spokespersons in both Israel and Egypt are trying to downplay the issue as a dispute between two companies rather than a threat to the peace treaty, Frenkel reportsRead more.

Uganda blocks Chinese loan over procurement concerns


Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
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ComputerWorld Zambia

By Michael Malakata

August 4, 2011

As wariness about China’s investments in Africa grows, allegations of procurement flaws and overpricing has moved the Ugandan government to block a US$74 million loan from the Import and Export Bank of China (EXIM) meant for a digital migration project.

The loan process has been halted even though the Ugandan and Chinese governments had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Keith Muhakanizi, the deputy secretary to the Ugandan treasury, made the announcement last week and has thus far given no indication that the loan process would be restarted.

The move highlights growing controversy surrounding the awarding of ICT contracts to Chinese firms in the region. It comes less than two weeks after the Pan African Group of China controversially won a tender for Kenya‘s digital TV signal distribution operation. Opposition lawmakers accused the Kenyan government of flouting the tender process and knocking local companies out of the bidding.

Zambia is also in talks with the Chinese government to supply and install digital equipment at the national broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corp. (ZNBC), without subjecting the tender to the bidding process as required by the country’s laws, according to opposition political parties.

As in many other countries in Africa, the Chinese government has been funding a number of ICT projects in Uganda through loans whose conditions are that supply and installation contracts are given to Chinese companies…The Ugandan government has been under pressure from opposition lawmakers who questioned the cost of the contract and the manner in which the contract was awarded.

Opposition leader Nandala Mafabi told journalists last week that the list of equipment in the tender was totally different from that of the contract. Nandala claimed the real value of the contract is between $20 million and $28 million and not the $74 million being claimed by Huawei TechnologiesRead more.

Uganda IGG Clears Mbabazi of CHOGM Mess, Raises Eyebrows


AllAfrica.com

By Julius Barigaba and Alfred Wandera

June 26,  2011

Nairobi — The office of the Inspector General of Government is battling a fresh credibility crisis following its decision to clear Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi of graft allegations in the 2008 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) scandal. Analysts have accused the body of lacking independence and furthering the political interests of those in power, rendering it ineffective in fighting the corruption that is draining billions of dollars from Uganda’s economy.

Mr Mbabazi, a former security minister, was implicated along with several other political heavyweights, including former vice president Prof Gilbert Bukenya, in value for money audits by the auditor general and parliament’s Public Accounts Committee…”I have my misgivings about the office of the IGG,” says Miria Matembe, former ethics and integrity minister. “When [former IGG] Jotham Tumwesigye was in that office, there was independence. He did his investigations and made reports without encountering political interference. But the current IGG tends to be selective.” Read more.

Ghana- Storm over $130 million grant to Anglogold


The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis an...
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AfricaFiles no.25153, March 18, 2011

The Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) has questioned the selection of AngloGold Ashanti by the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria control, to carry out malaria programmes in Ghana. AngloGold received an amount of about $130 million last year to extend its malaria programme to 40 districts in the Ashanti, Western, Northern, Upper East and West, Regions. The coalition argues that it is often civil society organizations that are responsible for such activities in all countries, and is therefore baffled as to why in Ghana a multinational company was given that mandate. According to the group, the whole nation could have benefited from the amount if it had been given the money as it has members nationwide who could have prosecuted the programme unlike AngloGold which is doing the work only in districts of aforementioned Regions.

It alleged that AngloGold made a huge profit last year and could have organized the amount of money it has been given for such an assignment as corporate social responsibility. “Is it fair for a company that makes such profit to be given such grant meant for the whole country? The Global Fund gathers money from other multinational companies in the world therefore it is not fair that AngloGold should be the principal recipient,” Dr. Joan Awunyo-Akaba, National Chairperson of the coalition argued. She continued, “If it is true that AngloGold is trying to set up its NGO so it can share the money as a sub-recipient then I think it is unethical. Our information is that AngloGold has used only about $6 million of the money and has not covered even the slated districts. The money belongs to the people of Ghana so it is not too late for the company to get in touch with the coalition and work with us.Read more

Zimbabwe government in further turmoil after re-arrest of energy minister


Voice of America, March 26, 2011.

Zimbabwe’s long-troubled unity government was thrown into further turmoil on Friday with the arrest of Energy Minister Elton Mangoma for the second time this month on charges of corruption in connection with procurement of meters for the national power utility.

Mangoma, an official of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested on March 10 on charges of abuse of office over a tender for the purchase of fuel from a South African company. Read more

Mali opposition party demands land lease details


Old bridge in Bamako, Mali
Image via Wikipedia

The Associated Press February 10, 2011 by Martin Vogl

Bamako, Mali

An opposition party in Mali wrote to the country’s president demanding that details of contracts leasing out massive areas of agricultural land be made public. In the letter shared with The Associated Press Wednesday, the Party for  National Renaissance said since 2003 almost 2 million acres of farm land have been leased out in secret contracts to Chines, Libyan and South African firms…Bakary Kante, an adviser to the Malian prime minister on agricultural issues, said the government has been promoting private investment because multinationals can afford to finance-much-needed infrastructure for the country. Read more

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