Questions are being raised over the decision by the Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev) to award a multimillion dollar fertilizer supply tender to South African company, Kynoch, whose Namibian agent was linked to the government agency, despite the company not having bid for the tender.
Information gleaned by the Windhoek Observer, indicates that Kynoch has been awarded the tender to supply fertilizer valued at N$19.7 million to Agribusdev’s five green schemes, despite a possible conflict of interest in the awarding process, including the fact that the company failed to comply with the bid requirements. Only Namibian suppliers were asked to submit bids.
The alleged conflict of interest arises over the possible role that Riaan Fokkens, a former consultant of the agency, for close to two years and Kynoch country agent could have played in ensuring that the tender requirements are manipulated to exclude local bidders.
Agribusdev Managing Director, Petrus Uugwanga, has also been fingered as an accomplice in facilitating the flouting of bid requirements that resulted in the tender being awarded to Kynoch, after waiving bid requirements.
Despite receiving 15 initial bids for the tender in September last year, the company’s bid evaluation committee found that none of the companies that had submitted bids met its requirements, leading to Uugwanga to motivating the waiving of bid requirements.
“I am not privy to any provision of the procurement law and regulations that limits the participation of non-Namibian companies to participate, apart from the provisions that protect the Namibian producer/manufacturer in case there is one and provided that the value for money principle is not compromised.
“As far as I am concerned, we do not have manufacturers of inorganic fertilizer in Namibia, and what we have are merely middlemen who buy from manufacturers in RSA and re-sell to us. Some companies that are buying or used to buy from Kynock, in order to resell to us at a substantial mark-up are known. This time around we only had a chance to buy from one the fertilizer manufacturers, which is Kynock as opposed to buying from other middlemen. The award was made through an open and transparent process,” the Agribusdev managing director said.
“The bids were duly evaluated by both the bid committee and the procurement committee and subsequently approved by the accounting officer.”
Uugwanga this week came to Fokkens’s defence, saying there was full compliance with the law, including company policy.
“I am re-iterating, as I have done in the past that Mr. Riaan Fokkens duly declared his interest in Kynoch and that is on record. I would also want to put it on record that Mr. Fokkens never presided or participated in the procurements process. I have never appointed him to any of the committees whether it was the bid or procurement committee. The onus lies on the one who is alleging to prove that.”
Uugwanga further said that he has already furnished agriculture minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, with a report regarding the awarding process, but did not say whether the minister was in agreement with his decision or not.
“I must also indicate that I have submitted a report to the Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on the 10th February 2020 with respect to this matter. On that note I would reserve my rights not to comment further for the time being,” he said.
Fokkens’s questionable relationship with Agribusdev comes after the Namibian newspaper revealed that he was paid N$77 000 a month for work as consultant to the agency that could be done by its staff.
At the time the agency was hit by high debt, and struggling to pay suppliers and the salaries of around 130 workers on time, while owing Kynoch close to N$20 million.