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SADC lose millions in unauthorised contracts

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The delay by SADC secretariat to finalise a financial manual, which includes processes and responsibilities regarding dealings with bank guarantees at all stages, has cost the organisation dearly.

The latest from the headquarters of the regional economic bloc in Gaborone has it that the organisation lost over P487million being un unfulfilled portion of the advance payment paid through an Italian Bank, Fidiroma for the procurement of bio-security laboratory equipment to upgrade the existing facilities in Tanzania which is financed under the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The said equipment which is still to be delivered is for the Trans- Boundary Animal Diseases Project. Insiders and observers say, this is just but one of the many examples on how SADC has lost huge sums as some of the senior officers allegedly often commit SADC in contracts without authority exploiting the lack of  guiding manuals.

The amount in question is among the many shortfalls exposed by the forensic audit conducted by Ernst & Young following complaints of alleged rampant corruption at SADC. The Midweek Sun has reliably learnt that SADC secretariat has gone all out to recover its money, but a stumbling block could be the fact that the Italian bank used for the transaction has been sold.

SADC has further learnt that the Project Coordinator of the Trans-Boundary Animal Diseases Project (name witheld) is the one that had authorised the bank guarantee, contrary to the rules and procedures and not the Executive Secretary. In the past SADC did not have financial manual.

Amongst others, the proposed manual includes processes and responsibilities covered, finalisation of standard bidding documents for services, goods and works requiring advance payment in the form of a financial bank guarantee. The manual which has now been put in place states that a financial bank guarantee shall only be issued, directly and or via a swift instruction, by a bank or financial institution registered under the laws of the host country being Botswana for the Secretariat and legally authorised to issue such financial instruments.

Further, that there must be verification, authentication, custody and security of financial/bank guarantee; and conditions and authority for the release of financial bank guarantee.

Documents passed to this publication which also formed part of the August SADC council of ministers agenda state that Council noted that the Secretariat continued to follow-up on a refund of US$487,008.72, being an unfulfilled portion of the advance payment made under the grant.  The Council also noted that the efforts of the Secretariat to recover the advance payment guarantee.

Unresolved issues
The Council noted that although the issue remains unresolved the Secretariat had written a letter to central bank of Italy seeking intervention of state structures on liquidation of the bank guarantee on 31 March 2015.

The Secretariat has also written to the Italian public prosecution through the Italian Embassy in Zambia, seeking intervention of state structures on liquidation of the bank guarantee on 8 April-2015. The Secretariat has also written a final demand legal letter to Fidiroma that is the Bank, which issued the bank guarantee on 25 May 2015.

There is also a planned visit to the Embassy of Italy in Lusaka, Zambia to obtain facilitation in dealing with Central Bank of Italy and Italy Public Prosecutions. This is yet to be done.

The advance payment
The Council further noted that the internal investigation has been carried out and looked into all aspects of the supply contract relating to bank guarantee advance payment of USD 487,008.72, and it has been established that SADC signed a contract with AGMIN worth US$1,999,132.14 in 2012 for the procurement of bio-security laboratory equipment to upgrade the existing facilities.

This procurement followed AfDB procurement rules for international bidding which stipulates a payment of 50 percent of the value of goods at the signature of the procurement contract.

To this effect, a total of USD 999,566.07 was paid to AGMIN in June 2012 for which a bank guarantee from Fidiroma Bank in Italy was obtained in line with ADB rules.

By June 2014 equipment worth USD 512, 557.57 had been supplied and installed while equipment worth US$487, 008.72 has been delivered and yet to be installed. The Secretariat is following up with the supplier to ensure that the equipment is installed.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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