The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is hot on the trail of Chinese contractor Zhengtai Group Botswana and some senior government officials over allegations of corruption.
Highly placed sources at DCEC claim that the company is alleged to have been giving between 10 to 30 percent of the worth of the contracts in kickbacks to senior government officials who have influence in the allocation of tenders. Graft busters from the DCEC are said to have unearthed some vital information which reveals how the Chinese construction company has now become the darling of government ministries regarding mega projects. Sources have also alleged that some government officials and cabinet ministers are under the DCEC radar regarding the projects awarded to the company.
At the center of the corruption storm is some senior government officials at the Office of the President who are said to be pressurizing Project Management Officers to ensure that Zhengtai is awarded one of the major projects. Senior government are said to have developed a new modus operandi in which they use the national security clause as a way of blocking other major construction companies from entering the lucrative multimillion government projects.
The notorious security clause was previously used against another Chinese contractor , China Jiangsu, when a tender they had been awarded was cancelled. The Chinese company through their lawyers Monthe Marumo Atorneys have requested PPADB to give them the security reasons they are talking about and Attorney General have failed to give them the reasons.
Sources claim that Zhengtai has procured industrial generators for some senior government officials and some cabinet ministers which they have connected at their farms. The latest development which has attracted the attention of DCEC is the awarding of Tender PPADB 07//6/8-1 for the construction of the Moshupa Primary Hospital at the cost of P418, 932.846.86. “The tender was awarded while it was still at cooling off period. This is totally unheard of,” revealed a PMO from the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services (DBES).
Attempts to get clarity from Zhengtai proved futile as their telephones were not answered.
The awarding is expected to be challenged before the courts of law by some of the companies that lost the bid. Zhengtai has of recent firmed their grip on cash-rich infrastructure contracts especially on NSC II. The Office of the President recently shocked industry players when it awarded Zhengtai the Design Supply and Build of Water Distribution Network, Sanitation Reticulation, Telementary and Scarca and Other Associated Works in Maun despite the matter being before the High Court.
By the end of October last year, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLWS) through the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) awarded a tender for the ‘Design Supply and Build of Water Distribution Network, Sanitation Reticulation, Telementary and Scarca and Other Associated Works in Maun’ to China Jiangsu to the tune of just over P1.5 billion.
Zhengtai Group which had scored lower in financial and technical evaluations and had valued its bid at over P1.8 billion was awarded the tender. Six contractors had submitted bids for the tender. The contractors were Zhengtai, China Jiaingsu, Colic, Kartz & Giant Build Joint Venture, Maun Joint Venture Unik/China Civil Engineering & Construction Company JV as well as China State Construction & Engineering Construction Company/Zhong Gan & Estate Construction JV.
According to Transparency International (TI) some Chinese companies have found ways of bribing senior government officials in Africa despite the strict anti-corruption laws in China.“While China has criminalized the bribery of foreign public officials, in line with obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, there has been no known enforcement against foreign corrupt practices by its companies, citizens and/ or residents,” the TI report says in part, which seeks to assess progress of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) anti-bribery convention.
Contacted for comment DCEC Public relations Officer Pakamile Kraaii could not confirm or deny that they are investigating the issue, saying they are prevented by law from disclosing information about ongoing investigations.