spot_imgspot_img
Thursday, June 20, 2024

LIBERIA’S MACHINE PROCUREMENT TIED TO CORRUPTION-LINKED SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESSMAN GUMEDE

Date:

“The call for development in Liberia must not come at the cost of integrity and transparency. We must avoid entering into a Faustian Bargain, a deal with the devil, which compromises our values. Our commitment to the people of Liberia is clear: no business as usual. Anything less is a promise betrayed,” emphasized Martin Kollie, Chairman Emeritus of Research and Policy Response for JNB for President 2023.

Kollie’s remarks today, Monday, May 27, highlight a pressing concern regarding the recent announcement of the procurement of “285 yellow machines” by the Minister of State without Portfolio. The primary dealer behind this procurement is South African businessman Robert Gumede, who is entangled in numerous corruption allegations and scandals. Gumede is a known ally and chief funder of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. on March 4, 2024, for corruption. Engaging in business with Gumede poses significant economic and political risks for Liberia.

It is crucial to question whether the Government of Liberia conducted due diligence on Robert Gumede and his business dealings. An AI-generated video showcased Gumede of Guma Group facilitating the procurement of these machines from the SANY Group in China, estimated at an unconfirmed US$30 million.

While the procurement of yellow machines for road development and maintenance is commendable, it is paramount that the process adheres to due diligence and best practices, including thorough background checks, legal, and fiscal requirements. Liberia can and must secure clean deals without compromising integrity.

Robert Gumede’s reputation as a businessman is marred by several controversies:

  1. Robert Gumede and his company were subjects of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe in South Africa over a multimillion-rand contract.
  2. Gumede fraudulently secured extended security, fleet lease, cellphone, and landfill site management tenders, violating the Municipal Finance Management Act.
  3. He was accused of clandestinely influencing a bidding process.
  4. Gumede is at the center of a 600 million rand tender scandal.
  5. The Home Affairs Department controversially canceled a contract with Gumede after a forensic audit uncovered irregularities.
  6. Gumede is known to have financially supported Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa.

These issues raise significant concerns for Liberia’s dealings with Gumede. The U.S. sanctions on Mnangagwa due to corruption and Gumede’s close association with him have implications for Liberia-U.S. relations.

It is imperative for the government to address several critical questions regarding this procurement:

  1. Where is the funding for the yellow machines coming from? Is it budgeted, a donation, or a gift?
  2. What is the exact cost of the project, including shipping charges?
  3. Were Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) guidelines and legislative requirements followed?
  4. Was a need-based study conducted before initiating this project?
  5. What research or analyses informed the decision to invest in this project?
  6. How will the machines be maintained and fueled? Who will bear these costs?
  7. Do we have trained Liberian operators and road engineers? How will they be compensated?
  8. How was the decision made to allocate 19 machines per county, despite variations in size, population, and needs?

These questions, according to Kollie demand answers.

In light of these concerns, it is recommended that President Boakai avoids engaging with dubious companies and shady investors. Such relationships could further harm Liberia and its people. Insisting on clean deals, adhering to due diligence, procurement regulations, and transparency is essential. Negotiations with companies or investors should be managed by the National Investment Commission (NIC). Embracing a Faustian Bargain in our rescue mission is dangerous and will backfire.

After 177 years of poverty and underdevelopment, Liberia must chart a different course. The goal is not just for President Boakai to be a better president but the best president. This is why voicing concerns about these early missteps is crucial, he concluded.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

LATEST DEVELOPMENT

THE SENATE’S EXTRAVAGANCE AMID ECONOMIC DESPAIR

The recent Senate retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County,...

LIBERIA’S LEGAL SYSTEM UNDER SIEGE: THE UNPUNISHED CRIMES OF MARIA LUYKEN

In October 2020, the Criminal Court ‘B’ at the...

COMMUNICATIONS MISHAP: A SIGNIFICANT EMBARRASSMENT TO THE PRESIDENCY

The recent debacle surrounding the Unity Party government's conflicting...

COMMENTARY

NO, SPEAKER KOFFA, I DISAGREE WITH THE DEFENSE OF LAWMAKERS

By Wondah L. Jah In a recent public statement, Grand...

COMMEMORATING THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY: A DEFINING MOMENT IN HISTORY

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, the course...

THERE SHOULD BE NO BIG DEAL WHEN A GOVERNMENT DOES WHAT IT WAS ELECTED FOR…

A Patriot's Diary  With Ekena Nyankun Juahgbe-Droh Wesley  President Joseph Boakai's...

LATEST NEWS

JAN. 6 COMMITTEE REFERS FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6,...

WORKERS PROTEST ALLEGED LABOR ABUSES AT MANO PALM OIL PLANTATION

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Workers from Mano Palm Oil Industries...

AN OUTRAGED LIBERIAN SENATE CONDEMNS GRAY AMID DEFIANT ENTRY AT UL MAIN CAMPUS…

A Patriot’s Diary With Ekena Nyankun Juahgbe-Droh Wesley Liberians continue to...

Share post:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

OPINION

ELEVATING THE AG BIBLE COLLEGE TO A UNIVERSITY: A MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENT

By Jacob N.B. Parley After many years of successful preaching...

THE DILEMMA OF PRESIDENTIAL SUPREMACY IN LIBERIA: EXAMINING THE BALANCE OF POWER

By Dr. Clarence R. Pearson, Sr. Superior presidency is the...

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN UP-LED GOVERNMENT’S DEAL RAISES SERIOUS CONCERNS

In a shocking and controversial move, the Unity Party...

THE PERILS OF PRAISE SINGING: HOW JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN LIBERIA

Journalists play a crucial role in holding public officials...

THE GALLERY

spot_imgspot_img

MORE ARTICLES

spot_imgspot_img

MORE NEWS

LATEST DEVELOPMENT NEWS

LATEST CRIME NEWS

Share via
Copy link