Gem Diamonds Namibia, a company linked to a politician and a government minister known to the Windhoek Observer, is tipped to be awarded the multimillion-dollar government tender to value Namibian diamonds despite previously having come out second in the tender evaluation process.
A government appointed diamond valuator’s role will be to ensure that a fair market value is put on locally produced diamonds before they are sold and exported, ensuring the country gets the best deal.
Information gleaned by this newspaper shows that the tender evaluation committee for the lucrative five-year deal had initially recommended that Prestige Diamonds, a company owned by former NDTC staffers be awarded the tender, but rescinded the offer after Gem Diamonds Namibia threatened to take legal action if not awarded.
According to the final evaluation, Gem Diamonds emerged with a 100 percent score despite its N$303,8 million bid being higher than that of Prestige Diamonds, which came out second with a 97,5 percent score and a lower bid of N$232 million.
Other companies that were in the running, include Ondjerera Diamond Valuators with a N$184,5 million bid and a 89,5 percent score, Kings Diamond Valuators with the highest bid of N$450 million, Welwitchia Diamond Evaluators with a N$152 million bid, and Medcor Diamonds with a N$128,6 million bid.
Previous valuators, Global Diamond Valuators Namibia, which had been valuating diamonds on behalf of government since 2007, only emerged sixth in the awarding process despite its extensive experience, with a N$233 million bid, much lower than N$303,8 million tendered by the politically connected Gem Diamonds Namibia.
Information made available, shows that if government moves ahead to award the tender to Gem Diamonds Namibia, it will be paying N$70 million more for the diamond valuation services to a company with no prior experience.
Global Diamond Valuators Namibia is reported to have been the only valuation company that had the experience of working with high value diamonds worth over N$10 billion a year.
The controversy surrounding the deal, has resulted in delays in the awarding of the contract, which should be awarded at the beginning of the year and has resulted in government being forced to continue with the services of Global Diamond Valuators Namibia until its officially awards the tender.
Contacted for comment regarding the tender, Mines minister Tom Alweendo said he was not privy to the outcome of the tender process.
“The tendering process is under the Procurement Board and the Board is under the supervision of the Minister of Finance. As a Line Minister I have no information as to the status of the process,” he said.
He distanced the ministry from the tender process, clarifying the process was being handled by the Tender Board.
“The Ministry of Mines & Energy's role was limited to drafting the bidding documents. Therefore, if there were/are anomalies in the process, I will not know. However, I'm confident that the system in place is in a position to deal with anomalies should such occur.”
Under the existing system according the media reports, the government valuator receives and values the diamonds from Namdeb, which is jointly owned by the government and De Beers, are then passed to the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) – another joint venture between the government and De Beers.
NDTC then supplies 85 percent of the diamonds to special customers called sight holders, while 15 percent is sent to Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia).
The Namibian had earlier reported that 10 other companies were vying for the tender, with United Diamond Trading Company, whose directors include businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun had also placed its bid, with the company asking for 0,15 percent and N$2,000 per hour for expert services.
Welwitschia Diamond Valuers Pty (Ltd) which emerged fifth on the final evaluation, whose company directors include Namibia Trade Forum chief executive Nditah Nghipondoka-Robiati, businessman Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, Leefa Ndilula, Hausiku Jacko Wakudumo and Nalutsehoo Olyetuyene Lina Ausiku had submitted a bid offer, with the company asking for 0,23 percent of the total value of each parcel, while its expert services were free.
Kings Diamond Valuations which came fourth on the final Tender Board evaluation and whose directors include businessman Tonata Shiimi, youth leader Sydney !Ganeb, Vincent Beukes and Welhelmina Podino Ndahutuka was reported to have submitted a bid for 0,60 percent of the total value of diamond parcels, and N$2,500 for expert services.
Gem Diamonds Namibia, whose director is businessman David Shimwino, asked for 0,25 percent and N$2,500 for expert services.
Target Diamond Services also submitted a bid for the tender.