THE Ministry of Public Works has selected an entity – which renovated the farm of Vice President Nangolo Mbumba – to renovate all government buildings, such as apartments, houses and residential properties, which are part of the former house of ‘State near downtown.
The same entity, the Association of Unemployed Artisans in Namibia (Auan), appears to be receiving preferential treatment from the Ministry of Public Works for the exclusive contract to refurbish and maintain government properties, without having to go through a public tender.
In addition to renovations to Mbumba’s farm, Auan has reached agreements to renovate the VIPP police headquarters, the former state house, as well as the former ombudsman’s office, along Avenue Robert Mugabe.
The government has denied it is renovating Mbumba’s Amateta farm, but documents show the Ministry of Public Works led the process, including specifications on key areas to be renovated, such as toilets, fencing and a reservoir of water.
Auan’s involvement is proof that the renovations weren’t just about moving police trailers.
At least two people who work in the Ministry of Public Works and understand its inner workings, have complained that it has a department responsible for the renovation and maintenance of government property, however, this department would be sidelined , while its employees remain inactive.
Government documents seen by The Namibian show that the Ministry of Public Works entered into an indefinite agreement with the association on November 11, 2020.
According to the agreement, the two wanted to “collaborate in the renovation of dilapidated buildings belonging to the Government of the Republic of Namibia, in an effort focused on economic uplift, skills development and mentoring of unemployed craftsmen, which resulted in to this understanding.
The agreement, seen by The Namibian, was signed by the executive director of the Ministry of Public Works Esther Kaapanda and Florian Mwetulundila, the chairman of Auan.
According to the agreement, the Ministry of Works will second two senior craftsmen and two labor inspectors, while the association will appoint its supervisors.
The agreement states that areas of cooperation will include project funding; renovation of residences, apartments and government institutions; skills development; knowledge sharing and coaching; and the supply and delivery of construction materials, equipment and tools.
Under the agreement, the ministry is responsible for financing all projects and paying Auan the cost of labor.
In turn, Auan will pay monthly the members working on the different projects.
The government would also supply and deliver building materials needed for particular projects, while the Department of Public Works would also purchase equipment and tools for various disciplines including masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical, and d other essential equipment.
The ministry, according to the agreement, would provide transport for the association to and from work using government buses when necessary and available.
Auan would also be responsible for providing security guards to protect materials on site, and liability insurance.
Auan should provide quotes on building materials, including civil works, plumbing and electricity costs.
“Funding for renovation projects of certain houses, apartments and government institutions under this agreement will be funded by the Ministry of Public Works and Auan will be paid for labor or work certified to quality standards agreed between Auan and the ministry,” the agreement reads.
“In matters not provided for, the parties stipulate the financial obligations”, specifies the agreement.
On the same day the agreement was signed, Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi granted the Ministry of Public Works a waiver from the requirement to follow public procurement laws when appointing AUAN to carry out works for the Ministry.
However, Shiimi stipulated a condition: “Please note that the purchase of renovation materials, including equipment and tools to be used, must always follow the provisions of the law.”
This framework was used to renovate Mbumba’s farm.
To kick off this relationship, N$9 million has been allocated to fund projects that Auan will work on for the 2021 financial year.
The ministry motivated this decision by saying that it would cost more to put the renovation and maintenance work out to public tender.
The ministry has also complained that when private contractors are appointed, the government is often short-changed and does not get value for money.
“We have been rejected many times,” said Mwetulundila, who added that Auan had pleaded with the government to reserve small jobs like tiling and carpentry for Auan, which has 5,000 unemployed graduate artisans across the country. .
He said it was a win-win arrangement as artisans gain experience and some money, while the government saves money as contractors often charge the government much more. .
He said that the fact that the government buys the materials directly means that it also saves in terms of profit margin.
Mwetulundila said the renovation projects in Windhoek were the government’s pilot project to study whether booking works for the Auan is viable, while members grow to be able to set up their own businesses to qualify to bid directly for the works. government and private sector projects.