COMPUTING

HOW SEBETELA'S COMPANY LOST AND WON BOTEC TENDER IN BOTSWANA

It has emerged that PC Net, an IT firm owned by former cabinet minister, Boyce Sebetela was initially beaten by four companies but still won the tender to supply computers to Botswana Technology Centre (BOTEC). When making submissions at the ongoing inquiry into financial and administrative irregularities and corruption at BOTEC, a senior computer engineer, Michael Ofori-Appiah said PC Net won after the tender was re-evaluated and modified.

He said his team drew up conditions for companies to supply BOTEC with computers and issued evaluation forms to judge whether bidders met requirements.

Sidney Kamakama and Ishmael Sechele did the evaluations. "I later compiled the aggregate of each company," said Appiah, a senior computer engineer at BOTEC. Upon completion of assessment, Sistech scored the highest points, followed by Real Time Solutions, Safari Computers, Media Tech, PC NET, ICT dynamics, Modi Investments, IT Sol and Mind Source. He said the first four companies were submitted to the head of BOTEC computer engineering, Suthani Mazhani who then approved the tender. He said Mazhani instructed Sechele to check if Sistech could supply them with two computers that were needed urgently.

At this point in Ofori-Appiah's testimony, the president of the commission, Joseph Lisindi intervened to ask why they checked if Sistech had computers instead of telling them to supply. "Don't you find it strange? Why did you switch from asking them to supply to check if they had computers?" Ofori-Appiah said he depended on Mazhani to take decisions.

He added that they were later told by Safari Computers that Sistech could not provide them with the quality that they wanted. When asked why they did not evaluate all the listed companies, he said he depended on Mazhani's decision.

But he agreed that some procedures were tampered with. In a report that he wrote to management, Ofori-Appiah asserted that there could have been some discrepancies in the tender documents. Since the computers were needed urgently, they moved to the second company, which unfortunately provided D330 machines that had given BOTEC problems before. The third company on the list did not meet the requirements. The rest that were on the list were not evaluated and Mazhani suggested that the tender be re-evaluated.

Tender documents were modified and in the new evaluation, Safari Computers scored the highest marks, followed by Modi Investments, Mind Source, IT Solution, ICT Dynamix and PC Net.

IT Solutions had the lowest price followed by Modi Investment, PC Net, Safari Computers, ICT Dynamix and Mind Source. Ofori-Appiah indicated that in the initial tendering document, the price was not considered. Though two companies beat PC Net in pricing they were not given the tender. "Though they were a bit higher than the other two companies, we realised that they offered a server that provided double the capacity," said Ofori-Appiah. When a price inquiry was done, PC Net was not consulted, as their price was already known.

Usually when the procurement is done, the finance and administration manager would call a management meeting to approve or disapprove the tender. But this was not the case as the managing director directly approved the tender, Ofori-Appiah said.

Instead of addressing the approval to the department of finance, the letter was directed to PC Net. The management procurement committee has never met to dispense the tender, he claimed.

The Reporter

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