The education ministry has notified the Windhoek High Court of its decision not to continue with the suit it had filed against the review panel’s decision to suspend the contracts awarded to four food supply companies and have the tendering process start afresh.
On Tuesday, the ministry indicated that they have reached a settlement in the matter, and no longer wish to pursue the second portion of their review application after the High Court ruled in their favour in an urgent interdict in September last year.
In September 2022, Judge Boas Usiku ruled in favour of the education ministry by granting the interdict it sought against the review panel’s decision to suspend the food tender awarded to Tsepo Catering, Kunene Caterers, Atlantic Catering Solutions and Eyambeko Namibia Catering Services in July of that year due to proper procedures not having been followed.
The court at the time indicated that the interim interdict would commence with immediate effect, and will remain in force until the review application before the court is finalised – which left the second part unresolved.
In the second part of the ministry’s application, it sought a review of the review panel’s decision in its entirety to be set aside and declared invalid and of no force.
The review panel made the order on 26 July 2022, following a review application on 13 July 2022 by Heritage Caterers, one of the companies which lost out on the tender.
The ministry said as a matter of urgency due to the school hostels having been scheduled to open on 17 July 2022, the finance ministry granted an exemption to the education ministry so that it could procure food for school hostels without going through the normal tendering process.
This meant the ministry would not have been complying with certain provisions of the Procurement Act.
On 6 July 2022, the bid evaluation committee (BEC) evaluated bids from eight prospective companies. A bid evaluation report was then submitted to the procurement committee.
On 8 July 2022, Tsepo Catering, Kunene Caterers, Atlantic Catering Solutions and Eyambeko Namibia Catering Services emerged as successful bidders to supply food from July to December.
A notice was given on 11 July 2022 to the unsuccessful bidders, being Free Namibia Caterers, Atlantic Food Services and Heritage Caterers.
According to the ministry, the review panel’s decision came at a time when the government had already bought the food from the suppliers.
Heritage said it was within the seven-day timeframe, as required by law, when it submitted its
review application to the review panel.
The catering company sought a review because they had the lowest quotation, which could have saved the government nearly N$10 million. In addition, the ministry unlawfully used benchmark prices and the 5% margin preference - which was unknown to bidders.