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Kathindi Flouted Tender Procedures

By Petronella Sibeene
WINDHOEK

The former Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, Bernard Kathindi, ignored tender procedures with impunity in his handling of landscaping work at the new State House.

A probe by the Anti-Corruption Commission found Kathindi had not complied with laid-down procurement procedures with regard to a tender on the construction of the multi-million dollar State House in the up-market Auas Blick residential area in Windhoek.

Yesterday, Paulus Noa the Director of the ACC told New Era that after months of investigation, his unit found that the former senior official acted in gross contravention of the provisions of the Tender Board Act in his handling of tenders on the new State House.

The probe came after some individuals raised eyebrows about how Oryx Development Group was contracted to do landscaping at the new State House.

Noa explained that after summoning several individuals on the matter, it emerged that unlike other Government projects where consultants are involved in facilitating the work, Kathindi was tasked with the responsibility of managing and controlling the State House project. This was done because the project has a security aspect to it.

“Kathindi was impressed by Oryx but in principle, the Tender Board was supposed to be approached for exemption as any Government procurement has to go through this procedure,” said Noa.

When it came to the appointment of a company that would do landscaping, Kathindi identified Oryx to do the job and immediately presented the letter of appointment without going through the Tender Board for scrutiny and a go-ahead signal.

The Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, Ndeutala Angolo, indicated in her document to the ACC that Kathindi informed the high-level technical committee about Oryx’s capabilities to perform landscaping and thus he was advised to approach the Tender Board for exemption.

Section 7 of the Tender Board Act, 1996 stipulates that all procurement of goods and services for the Government shall be the responsibility of the Tender Board unless otherwise provided by the Act or any other law.

Despite that, the official further wrote a letter to Mansudae Overseas Project Group, a main contractor of the new State House to make an upfront payment.

A cheque of N$2 300 000 and another of N$3 450 000 were paid to Oryx.
The advance payments were carried out without the knowledge of other relevant stakeholders.

In his affidavit and supporting document, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, Shihaleni Ndjaba, said the issue of the advance payment only came to his attention on 26 March last year when he held a meeting with the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President.

Oryx was appointed to do the landscaping work in January 2004.

The Vice President of Mansudae Overseas Project Group, Ri Kwang Guk, also indicated that he was requested by Kathindi to make a N$5 million payment to Oryx. He further indicated that his company was expecting to do the landscaping of the new State House but that was not indicated in the contract.

Noa said before it could start with the work, the contracted company approached the then Minister of Higher Education and Training, Nahas Angula, on whether it could make use of the skills of the trainees of the National Youth Service from Berg Aukas project but the company was advised to approach the Office of the President considering that this field was transferred to them.

Meanwhile, the client (Oryx) through their legal representative wrote a letter to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication that they were being delayed in concluding the agreement and requested the Ministry to finalise the matter as the situation was becoming intolerable.

Kathindi indicated to the ACC that he acted under operational pressure; a reason Noa says cannot serve as an excuse to flout the procurement laws and regulations.

“Mr Kathindi ignored the provisions of the Tender Board with utmost impunity. The reasons advanced by Mr Kathindi as to why he had made such a decision cannot hold water,” Noa said.

Noa further argues that this is a committee that resolved that a formal lawful procedure should be followed in sub-contracting the Oryx Development Group.

Kathindi’s further argument that in the past a contract had been signed after the construction had already started raises suspicions of corrupt practices or administrative irregularities, Noa added.

The ACC according to Noa, found no evidence that Kathindi had a criminal intent to corruptly benefit either directly or indirectly from the contract in contravention of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003.

Further, on the basis that Kathindi had since resigned, he cannot face a disciplinary hea-ring to maintain accountability and transparency.

Failure to follow the correct procedures by Kathindi has, however, delayed the completion of the new State House especially landscaping services that have not been carried out.

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