Katima fraud report is premature - Mayor

By Confidente Reporter

THE mayor of Katima Mulilo town council Charles Matengu has said that an internal audit report for the town council prepared by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development in August 2017 is premature and was not supposed to be leaked to the media because the town is still waiting for legal opinion from the office of the Attorney-General.

Last week Confidente reported various discrepancies at the council to an extent the ministry suggested that the former Chief Executive Officer, Charles Nawa Nawa, be held liable for various incidents of financial and administrative mismanagement that happened on his watch.

Matengu this week said that the council will respond to the findings in the report when they get legal opinion.

“We will come to the public...we want to push the office of the Attorney-General so that they can provide legal opinion. Once it is out, we will call a press conference,” he said.

In the 66-page report, the ministry said the suspected malpractices include the awarding of million dollar tenders to a number of companies between 2013 and 2016. The contracts included the drilling of boreholes, construction of town council offices, water reticulation infrastructure and a fire station.

According to the damning report, dated August 2017, some of the projects were completed after the completion date set for them by the council had lapsed but were allowed to claim penalty fees from the town council without the approval of the council.

In September 2015 the line ministry appointed Windhoek Consulting Engineers on the recommendation of the town council as a consultant for a borehole drilling project, which was estimated to be worth N$2.8 million. However, the town council had allegedly appointed Eco Construction and Development CC for an amount of N$3.2 million, which was N$1 million more than the projected cost.

The payment of the additional N$1 million was allegedly done without the approval of the council. The ministry also alleged that the tender was not advertised before it was awarded to Eco Construction.

“The council and the former Chief Executive Officer, Mr. C. Nawa Nawa must be held accountable for not advertising the tender for drilling boreholes. The council and the former chairperson of the local tender board must be held accountable for exceeding the budgeted amount by N$1 091 391.03 for the construction of the boreholes for 2015/16 financial year,” the ministry instructed.

In addition, the town council awarded a tender to construct a water reticulation network in Choto and Cowboy locations to a company called Vincent and Tiffany Construction CC for a tender price of N$3.2 million, but the material used did not comply with the standards of SABS, the South African Bureau of Standards.

The ministry said the budgeted amount for the tender was N$8.4 million but that was reduced to N$3.2 million to favour Vincent and Tiffany Construction. The tender was allegedly given to them because the company had previously worked for the town council and installed a large number of water meters and pipelines. One of the apparent reasons for awarding the contract was that the company had already bought the materials required and the materials were already onsite.“The local tender board and the former chairperson of the local tender board, Mr. C. Nawa Nawa must be held accountable for appointing a contractor who purchased construction materials in advance, which were not SABS compliant as per the tender advertisement.

“The council and the former chairperson of the local tender board, Mr. C. Nawa Nawa must be held accountable for awarding a tender for water reticulation in Choto and Cowboy to Vincent and Tiffany Construction CC after adjustments of bid amounts in line with project budget.

“Council and former chairperson of the local tender board Mr. C. Nawa Nawa must be held accountable for unauthorised expenditure of N$3 065 330.99,” the report states.

The installation of the water meters at Choto and Cowboy is another thorny issue. Five million Namibian dollars was budgeted for the installation of the water meters, inclusive of VAT and professional fees. On September 30 2014, the council recommended Chisozu Investment CC, who tendered for N$5.7 million, to be appointed Charles Matengucontractor.

However, on October 2 that same year, the council appointed Vincent and Tiffany Construction CC for a tender price of N$6.3 million for installation of the water meters for Choto and Cowboy, contrary to the recommendation of the consultant.

“The awarding of the tender of installation of water meter in Choto and Cowboy to Vincent and Tiffany Construction CC at tender price of N$6.3 million was relatively high … [compared to] the project cost estimate of N$5 million by the consultant,” the ministry found.

Speaking on the recommendations by the ministry recently, the town council’s incumbent CEO Raphael Liswaniso said the case was forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General and the Anti-Corruption Commission.  Efforts to get comment from Nawa Nawa proved futile.