Four years after having been awarded a tender to demolish a government house in Okahandja, businessman John Sylvanus John, known as ‘John John’, is still fighting to be paid N$2.4 million for the work.
The works ministry has refused to pay, citing that not only was the tender awarded irregularly, but there is no contractual agreement between John’s company, Addi Investment Africa, and the ministry.
The ministry was considering housing the Malaysian Limkokwing University of Creative Technology Campus in the said building.
In court documents, works ministry John Mutorwa said he was unaware of the said agreement between Addi investment Africa and the ministry.
He recalls that on 23 January 2017, John on behalf of his company, wrote to the ministry’s then-executive director Willem Goeieman with a proposal to lease the property for purposes of operating and conducting hotel and restaurant services for 25 years.
On 20 February 2017, John wrote to the ministry he visited the property and discovered it was dilapidated.
He allegedly proposed demolishing the property.
He further proposed he would only lease the land, as he was planning on investing N$40 million for the lease and construction of a new building.
The ministry also conducted its inspection and on 6 March 2017 agreed to the demolition of the building.
On 27 June 2018, Treasury granted the authorisation to the ministry for the building on the property to be demolished.
However, Treasury refused to authorise the lease of the property to John and instead advised that the ministry allows government entities to build office accommodation on the property.
John, on 12 December 2018, gave the ministry his quotation of N$2 489 140.50 and on 25 February 2019, Goeieman informed him he could commence with work.
In a letter directed to Goeieman and dated 18 March 2019, John requested his full payment, stating he was done demolishing and his work had already been inspected by the ministry’s officials.
Mutorwa said based on the correspondence, there was no compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
“The plaintiff’s services for the demolition of the structures on the property were not procured in accordance with any of the formal competitive processes contemplated in the Public Procurement Act and were, therefore, procured unlawful, illegal and in contravention of the Public Procurement,” said Mutorwa.
Last week, the ministry’s lawyer Natasha Bassingthwaighte argued John failed to prove there was an agreement between his company and the ministry – either orally or in writing.
Bassingthwaighte said even if the contract were to exist, it would be void, as proper procedures were not followed.
Furthermore, he is trying to enrich himself at the expense of the ministry, as the cost to demolish is estimated to be N$1 298 162.49 inclusive of value-added tax.
Thus, the court should dismiss John’s claim.
John’s lawyer Tinashe Chibwana argued there is documentary evidence that a contract does exist between John’s company and the ministry.
He said the existence of the 25 February 2019 letter from Goeieman confirms there was a contract.
He said the letter clearly states that Treasury approved the demolition.
That is why Goeieman stamped his quotation of N$2 489 140.50 for the demolition works on 27 February 2019.
“We submit that on the facts, it is plainly evident that an agreement was entered into, the scope of the work is plainly set out in the quotation and the proposed cost of the work is set out in the quotation. The 25 February 2019 letter is plainly an acceptance of the quotation,” said Chibwana.
Chibwana further said the court must rule in favour of John and his company, and award him his payment for the work he had done.
The hearing is ongoing before Judge Hannelie Prinsloo.