Procurement under fire

07 August 2019 | Crime

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) executive director Graham Hopwood has questioned the effectiveness of the country's public procurement system, in the light of recent revelations that a total of N$750 000 was paid into the private bank accounts of three justice ministry officials to pay a software supplier.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently concluded there was no intention to swindle the money from the ministry.

The ACC said an explanation and supporting document provided by justice ministry executive director Issaskar Ndjoze explained the circumstances that compelled the ministry to make payments to the Singaporean company via the personal bank accounts of the officials in question.

Speaking during the launch of the sixth edition of Procurement Tracker Namibia (PTN) this week, Hopwood said the incident shows that the procurement system was completely bypassed.













“Obviously you could not have the executive director, formerly the PS in the ministry, directing money into individual officials' accounts, if there was a proper procurement system operating. The underlying point for us is that the procurement system is clearly not working in the justice ministry,” he said.

The PTN interrogated a government meeting that took place in July to address the troubles that have plagued Namibia's public procurement system, which was a clear signal that these issues can no longer be swept under the rug.

IPPR research associate Frederico Links said there are immense gaps at very strategic points in the public procurement system.

He also questioned government's commitment to fighting corruption head-on, adding that irregularities, such as with the justice ministry incident, are swept aside as “administrative issues”.

Former Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) CEO Tarah Shaanika told Namibian Sun in a separate interview that the Central Procurement Board (CPB) of Namibia has no proper capacity.

“The Public Procurement Act created a mess. Procurement in the country is very slow and this frustrates suppliers and a lot of businesses,” he said.

CPB chairperson Patrick Swartz confirmed there is limited capacity at the tender board and also at public offices.

According to him there is often no cohesion between the board and some public entities, which can frustrate the process.

“When we are not clear on what must be procured, then it becomes difficult to just rubber stamp projects,” he added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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