- Pula Rich and Mileage Group directly appointed to provide COVID-19 supplies
- Pula Rich changed directors after awarding of tender
- Mileage Group was allegedly insolvent
- Pula Rich is owned by BDP funder Didarul Islam Bhuiyan
The Auditor General (AG) Pulane Letebele’s COVID-19 management report has unearthed a rot in the awarding of an P80 million tender for COVID-19 supplies at the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW).
The tender involves two companies, Mileage Group (Pty) Ltd and Pula Rich Investments (Pty) Ltd who were directly appointed to supply of COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment in April 2020l.
The tender awarded to Mileage Group amounted to P47.6 million while one worth P32.3 million went to Pula Rich Investments. As of August 2020, the MoHW had an outstanding supply of COVID-19 supplies in the value of P28.6 million.
“It was revealed that Pula Rich Investments (Pty) Ltd was awarded the tender on 15 April 2020 while under a local shareholder/director who ceased to be a director on 14 May 2020, and was replaced on the same date by another local citizen who was also later replaced by a foreign national on 7 September 2020,” says the AG’s report.
The latest sole owner of the company is Didarul Islam Bhuiyan, a well known funder of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who has also made several donations in President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s home village of Moshupa.
“The transfers of this nature are a red flag for unethical practices and they also circumvent government initiatives towards citizen economic empowerment,” the report notes.
It states that a MoHW Internal Audit Report dated 13 May 2020 had indicated that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) investigations had revealed that Mileage Group was allegedly insolvent to carry out a tender of such magnitude. Mileage Group is owned by Chinese native Miles Nan.
“The company was unable to raise capital to honour the Government Purchase Order (GPO) from the MoHW procurement,” says the AG’s report. “At the time of audit on 30 August 2020, the two companies had not fully delivered the goods.”
“In addition, evidence of requests for direct appointment and approval by the Fund Management Committee, as required by the Public Finance Management (COVID-19 Pandemic (Corona Virus) Relief Fund) Order 2020 (S.I. 38 of 2020), for the said companies could not be availed for inspection.”
In its response to the AG, the health ministry submitted that the procurement was done through the assistance of the Chinese Embassy by ministry management with a former permanent secretary and DPS HSM leading the team. It also noted that the size of the procurement was later reduced following expert advice.
“A list of the items required (PPE, Laboratory Commodities and other medical supplies) to be procured by the ministry was prepared by the 89 COVID-19 Logistics Team and communicated to the two prospective suppliers for the quotations,” the ministry noted.
“The total amount required for all the items listed therein proved to be prohibitive (astronomical), hence the list had to be trimmed down.”