High Court Suspends Controversial Software Tender

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By Staff Reporter

THE High Court has suspended a SAP software application services tender awarded to Tano Digital Solutions (Private) Limited (Tano).

This comes after Twenty Third Century Systems (Private) Limited (Twenty Third Century) successfully challenged the deal arguing that the awarding was done illegally.

SAP is a German multinational software corporation based in Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg that develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations.

Twenty Third Century had cited Tano together with the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF), the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) as respondents.

High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu ruled the tender should be stayed.

“Pending determination of HC1737/22, the execution of a tender award made by the first respondent (Twenty Third Century) in favour of the third respondent (Tano) dated the 9th of December be and is hereby stayed,’ ruled the judge.

“In the event that the third respondent has initiated the tender process, that the same be stayed pending determination of HC1737/22,” he further stated.

Tagu further ordered the respondents to show cause why a final order should not be made cancelling the tender.

In the application, Twenty Third Century told the court that in October last year, ZIMDEF published a notice calling for an informal tender for the provision of SAP software application services.

Firms submitted their bids, but on November 9, 2021.

Twenty Third Century submitted a notice to PRAZ challenging “as restrictive, unreasonable, and anti-competitive a condition inserted by the first respondent (ZIMDEF)”.

The challenge emanated from ZIMDEF’s demand for bidders to be holders of an SAP licence.

Twenty third Century had been providing the service since 2015.

The company also complained that its discharge of the function had been above reproach.

While the challenge was pending, ZIMDEF went ahead and awarded the tender to Tano, prompting Twenty Third Century to approach the High Court.

Tagu said Twenty Third Century made a case warranting the granting of the interim relief sought.

A senior official at Praz welcomed the ruling saying they hoped it would bring sanity and stop manipulation of tenders by unscrupulous businessmen.

He said: “In the true spirit of competition and fair play for quality delivery, we can’t have one firm influencing the inclusion of clauses that foreclose the participation in tenders of other firms. The biggest winner in a fair and transparent bidding process is the procuring authority who ultimately chooses the best bidder for the scope of work required.

Tano is owned by businessman Wallen Tawanda Mangere.