The Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) cleared the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the procurement of a $35 million (K27 billion) contract to upgrade the Passport Issuance System (PIS) and Introduction of the Electronic Passport after it had sought clarification on the rules.
The department had sought PPDA clarification after it was impressed with the bid of Two Trees Investments as a joint venture with ZETES, a reputable Belgium firm, which had withdrawn from bidding after it was among the 10 firms invited to bid.
Other bidders included passport booklets supplier Technobrain which is under investigations by the Anti Corruption Bureau and IRIS Corporation which was disqualified on preliminary assessment by the department’s Internal Procurement Committee after its bid failed to meet basic requirements.
The bid document Clause: 11.1 of page 22 states that ‘A bidder shall be allowed to enter into a joint venture with other consultants not invited for this assignment.’
The clause caused some mist after ZETES which was invited to participate decided to withdraw before bidding and then had a join venture with Two Trees.
One of the companies participating in the tender, IRIS Group SA accused the Chief Immigration Officer Innocent Medi of breaching its own bidders’ instructions.
But Director Genderal of PPDA, Timothy Kalembo informed Ministry of Homeland Security in a letter dated December 5 2018 that section 2 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act 2017 provides that a bidder “means any participant who has expressed interest in procurement proceedings by submitting a bid.”
ZETES did not submit a bid but had a join venture, therefore it was not an initial bidder.
Kalembo said in the letter that if the bidding document says that no bidder will go into joint venture with another bidder who has participated in these proceedings, then the meaning is that such another bidder must have submitted a bid in those proceedings.
“In our present case, the other party has withdrawn by not submitting a bid which means that such a party cannot be said to be a bidder. The provisions of the Act must prevail when the provision in the bidding document is inconsistent with the provision of the Act,” reads Kalembo’s letter as seen by Nyasa Times.
The authority’s director general clarified that the fact that a bidder is on a join venture with a party who expressed interest in the proceedings but did not submit a bid cannot be used a s a ground to fall a bid of a joint venture “since the other party who withdrew is not a bidder in accordance with the Act.”
In Malawi, public procurement is regulated by an Act of Parliament, Public Procurement Act 2003, which has now been replaced by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2017.