THE controversial United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) security tender has taken a new twist with the Administrative Court reversing the award.
The Administrative Court of Zimbabwe last Friday granted an order stopping Cobra Security, which had been awarded the tender below stipulated bidding price, from assuming guardship at UBH.
UBH had been faced with a unique problem with the two security companies guarding the health institution complex since December last year.
The dilemma started after former guards, Home Guard Security’s contract expired and Cobra Security Services assumed duties.
Guards from the two companies were sometimes deployed at the same premises, with each sending guards to man the boom gate at the entrance leading up to the hospital.
To add to the confusion, after Cobra Security was awarded the contract, it was accused of charging below the prescribed rates.
On realising the stand-off, Nokel Security made representations to the Administrative Court resulting in the hospital reversing its offer and reverting to the previous service provider, Home Guard Services, waiting for the matter to be resolved.
Nokel filed its appeal at the Administrative Court challenging Cobra security for violating the law by offering low charges.
“The basis upon which this application is premised is that the third respondent (Cobra Security) violated the law by undercharging and for that matter it cannot be allowed to benefit from an illegality by doing work for the second respondent (the Health and Child Care ministry, which administers UBH) and receive payment,” read Nokel’s court papers.
The State Procurement Board is cited as first respondent, Health and Child Care minister and Cobra Security are cited as second and third respondents, respectively.
Nokel Security submitted that the minimum a company could charge for offering services to the hospital was $299 184, but Cobra had charged $236 973, which is below the prescribed rate.
The court appeal prompted UBH chief executive officer Nobuhle Ndlovu to inform Cobra Security that its contract would be suspended until the finalisation of the matter.
Administrative Court judge Justice Herbert Mandeya last week granted Nokel Security’s application indicating that the company’s appeal was upheld with costs.
In his ruling, Justice Mandeya noted that Nokel Security and Cobra Security participated in tender number UBH/SUB SEC/01/2014.
“The first respondent (State Procurement Board) awarded that tender to the third respondent (Cobra),” said Mandeya.
“The appellant (Nokel) is dissatisfied with that on the basis the third respondent’s bid violated the law in that third respondent’s charges were below the minimum prescribed by Statutory Instrument 180 of 2010.”
He said from the comparison made in the schedule, it showed that Cobra’s bid was $236 973, 60 while Nokel’s bid was $299 184.
“Both appellant’s bid and that of the third respondent were found to be compliant with all the specifications in this tender. It is common because in this case that Statutory Instrument 180 of 2010 sets the minimum permissible charges that a bidder may charge. The applicant’s charges in this tender were all equivalent to minimum permissible charges,” said Justice Mandeya.
Justice Mandeya said Cobra Security did not dispute that Nokel Security’s charges were equal to the minimum permissible charges and Cobra Security contended that it was able to lower its total bid by giving the procuring entity a discount on account of the procuring entity being a non-profit making entity.
Justice Mandeya said Nokel Security indicated that UBH was not registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisation Act Chapter 17:05.
“It falls under the minister of Health and Child Care. The Private Voluntary Organisations Act is administered by the minister of Labour and Social Welfare.
“This court finds the argument of the appellant (Nokel) as correct. The third respondent’s excuse for lowering its bid below the legally permissible charge is not legally defendable. In this case third respondent’s bid was below the legally permissible minimum.
The appeal is upheld with costs,” ruled Justice Mandeya.