The Politics of Tender Connections [opinion]

I UNDERSTAND tender to mean, for example, that a government ministryofficeagency will invite businesses to respond to a particular need, through a supply of goods and services, and select an offer that meets the need at the best value for money.

In a normal tendering situation, this process should be conducted fairly and honestly, and in a manner that is free from bias or favour. It is fair to assume that at the highest level of government, from the president, prime minister and ministers, especially the Ministry of Finance, this is their best intention. I would presume the intention is equally the same even at private companies and parastatals, such as Namibia Wildlife Resorts.

There is also, it appears, a tendering process for positions. Already some claim to be in line to become governors and ministers next year after the elections.

Habits can be changed but reality cannot be amended. Some people are approaching captains of industry with an intimidatory message in order to have a tender awarded to them under false pretense. In the event a certain MD or CEO refuses, he or she is told that there “will be a consequence come 2015”.

For example, one businessman got a tender from a certain local authority and failed to deliver, but the money is in his pocket. He boasts that he plans to build a big house because come 2015 he could be visited regularly. How can this be right or allowed to happen?

It is also common these days to hear so and so are lined up to become a high-ranking office bearer in the upcoming administration. Some say they will become governors, another an Attorney General and some ministers are told point blank “you will not feature in the incoming administration”.

One would have thought that positions must be based on competency and tenders should be guided by agreeable criteria transparent and fair to all. It cannot be right that some individuals behave as though come 21 March 2015 the sun will rise from the east. This will be a reversal of reality and a flagrant abuse of common sense. After all, there is no human being so rich and powerful to supply oxygen to an entire country.

I know that this campaign of tender connections or promises for positions has not and can never be sanctioned, directly or indirectly, by the Swapo Party or its leadership, because the ruling party is never about auctioning principles for tenders and positions. It does also not stand for putting Namibia on sale through tenders or buying of positions through tenders. It has structures such as sections, branches, districts, regional structures or wings and these are made up of mostly poor people, albeit 24 years after independence, while few individuals have become richer. However, Swapo’s principles of solidarity, freedom and justice attest to the need for genuine economic empowerment for all, especially the youth, women and rural poor.

Whether the above conducts are fueled by what some have called “payback politics” or “politics of revenge” there should be clarity of conscience on all to condemn the misuse of state resources for personal glories be it tenders or positions.

It is pitiful that rumour mongering has fast become “unofficial” policy of our body politics. To give another example: a person was recently placed on a government payroll, without interview or aerts, and his terms of reference are to work for the factory of lies and to insult others. It is sad that there is energy to influence tender outcomes or positions for individuals but not enough energy to strive for the benefit of empowering all Namibians through institutions such as schools, traditional authorities, youth organisations or even scholarships for the poor and deserving Namibian youth.

In the final analysis, I think that in politics, just like life in general, there must be points on which we cannot agree, moments on which circumstances may not seem propitious. But we must never disagree on the absolute necessity to address the needs and aspirations of the Namibian people, without fail.

Thus, the tendering process must be seen as government resources meant to facilitate efficient service delivery of government to all Namibians. Our children must be raised in the knowledge that hard work pays and honest living is much more worth than silver and gold.

We must, therefore, encourage our young people to aspire to greatness, and encourage them to make honest mistakes from which they must learn to become doers of great deeds and dreamers of patriotic dreams.

*Elijah Ngurare is Secretary for Swapo Party Youth League.

Source : The Namibian