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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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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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Wame – a little einstein in the making

Irene Shone

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LITTLE EISTEIN: Wame Kangumbe

Wame Petit Kangumbe, 12, is an Optometrist in the making.

Kangumbe envisions taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the next level by inventing something scientific in the future.The standard 7 pupil at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye impressed everyone during the BIUST 5th STEM Festival and Research and Innovation Symposium with her sharp answers during the fest.

The little Scientist believes that the entire country should embrace science and do more experiments, to find out more about our physical environment and shed dependency on foreign countries in terms of Science and Engineering.

Her secret to relating with different topics so well, is research and more research. “I like researching. We have Wi-Fi at home, and so I often use my mother’s phone to type different topics and interact with how everything is related. I always prepare for the next lesson through researching,” she said.

She said the poverty in Africa can only be eliminated through STEM. “If everyone could take interest in STEM, we would go further in terms of uplifting the status of our economies as African countries,” she said.

She urged her peers to believe in themselves and be serious about their education. “When you write down your notes in class, make an application of what you want out of them. Everyone’s life is in their own hands,” she advised.

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