United Africa loses legal challenge over pension tender

Windhoek-Windhoek High Court Judge Boas Usiku yesterday dismissed an application by United Security Services � a subsidiary of United Africa Group � to review and set aside a decision by the Tender Board of Namibia regarding the tender to administer the cash payments pension and social grants.

The tender has been given to Epupa Investment Technology (Epupa Investech).

It is the second time that United Africa Group loses out on the lucrative tender, worth as much as N$28 million a year for an awarded contract period of five years. The company previously held the tender for nearly 10 years, before it was given to Epupa for the first time in 2011.

This time around United Security Services brought the application after the Tender Board disqualified their tender on the basis that they submitted a letter of good standing in the name of their holding company, United Africa Group, as well as failed to submit a proposal for social responsibility that was required.

The Tender Board invited submissions on October 13 last year for the tender and after evaluating the bids received, the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, which is the line ministry, recommended that the tender be awarded to Epupa Investment Technology and on the same day the Tender Board awarded it to Epupa Investech.

The board then on November 10 last year justified its decision and said the assessment of the tender documents yielded that there was no bank letter of good standing in the name of United Security Services as well as no proposal for social responsibility, although such submissions were made in the name of the holding company.

United Security Services then launched an application to review and set aside and/or correct the decision of the Tender Board and asked for costs.

The Tender Board and Epupa Investech opposed the application.

United Security Services contended that it had complied with all the tender requirements, including the submission of their bank letter and social responsibility. It said the submissions were in the name of their holding company, United Africa Group.

They said that in any event it was not a requirement that the letter and proposal be in the name of the tenderer.

They further contended that Epupa Investech did not submit a tender � as such the tender was awarded to a non-existent entity.

The Tender Board however remained steadfast in their decision that the applicants did not comply with the tender condition and rubbished the claims that Epupa Investech was a non-existent entity.

The Tender Board contended that all along Epupa Investment Technology and Epupa Investech were treated as one and the same.

Judge Usiku said that he found the argument of United Security Services that it was not a tender requirement for the letter and proposal to be in the name of the tenderer unpersuasive.

He further said that the tender requirements asked for a letter of good standing from a bank and that letter should indicate the financial viability of the contractor.

Given the underlying purpose of the requirement to furnish a letter of such nature, it makes no sense to furnish such letter in a name of any person other than the tenderer.

With regard to the requirement for a social responsibility proposal he said the same principles apply. It would not serve the purpose of the requirement to submit such proposal in the name of anyone other than the tenderer, Judge Usiku stated.

Based on the aforegoing reasoning, the applicant cannot argue convincingly that it has complied with all the conditions and specifications set out in the tender documents. I am in agreement with the arguments of the first respondent (Tender Board) when he contends that any one of the non-compliance with the tender conditions aforesaid, was sufficient to disqualify the applicant's tender, the judge said before he dismissed the application.

He also ordered the applicants to pay the costs of the Tender Board and to pay the costs of Epupa Investech on the scale of one instructing and one instructed counsel.

James Diedericks appeared on behalf of United Security Services, Advocate T Chibwana from the Office of the Attorney General acted for the Tender Board and Advocate Coleman instructed by AngulaCo Inc. represented Epupa Investech.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia