The Focus newspaper recently posted an article, “Big appetites at public procurement authority - P.G facilitated conciliation between suspect thieves” questioning the role of both the Prosecutor General and RPPA top officials in a tender scam related to the repair of Mudasomwa-Gisovu and Butare-Kibeho-Muse roads in the Southern Province.
Having worked with RPPA and given my not-so small knowledge on Public Procurement procedures in Rwanda, I would like to react to some of the views outlined by Shaka Kanuma, the author of the article.
He makes a misleading claim that Seminega the Director of RPPA, and Mr. Mugabo the chairman RPPA board of directors overruled everybody and awarded tender contracts to BCE contractor.
The author exhibits ignorance of how tender contracts are awarded. To set the record straight neither Seminega nor Mugabo award tender contracts, instead they are awarded by the entire RPPA board.
Seminega is simply the secretary to the board together with Mugabo who is the board chairman, and their views on tender awards by no means supersede the views of the entire board.
This article would have earned the author some credibility if he had proposed action against the entire board. By singling out a few individuals the article lost any element of objectivity.
Under the current Procurement Law, contract management is a sole responsibility of the procuring entity which in this case is MININFRA. RPPA can only help the procuring entity to identify a suitable contractor.
If it’s true that MININFRA released three tranches to the company without considering the amount of work accomplished, then the officials at MININFRA not Seminega should be in a better position to give explanations for their actions.
MININFRA should not have released more than one tranche to a company that wasn’t performing.
In fact after the first tranche, if they were convinced that they were dealing with a briefcase company, they had the chance to cancel the contract and then confiscate the performance security. Such a measure would have saved the government any kind of losses.
To blame the RPPA officials for the money released for no work done, amounts to miss-apportioning responsibility.
The author further labels the owners of the company that won the tender crooks that spend most of their time in jail. There is no provision under Rwandan Procurement law that prohibits a suspect thief from winning a tender.
Its only companies that have previously failed to accomplish their tender obligations that are ineligible to compete for public tenders.
Seminega and Mugabo may not be perfect individuals just like all humans, but these are the individuals behind the success registered in the field of public procurement in Rwanda to date.
I may be excused for over-rating them but in my opinion these two men work in a potentially risky environment handling tender contracts worth millions, yet the kind of success they have achieved in the past years is there for every one to see.
The author is an ex-employee of RPPA