It’s time to play by a different (ethical) set of rules (Part 5)

It’s time to play by a different (ethical) set of rules (Part 5)

Imagine participating in a tender in which one of the bidders wrote the actual bid documents!

It happened to me once…

It happened in Zimbabwe when we were fighting for the license to operate. After the Supreme Court first ruled that the state monopoly in telecoms must be ended, the judges then ordered the Minister of Telecommunications to issue a cell phone license by public tender. The judges gave a deadline by which it had to be done.

A few weeks later a tender was published in the newspapers by the minister. We had no choice but to participate in the process. We wondered at the time how the minister had managed to prepare the tender documents in such a short time. Little did we know that the bid documents had been prepared by one of the participants!

On the day of the closure, there were four bidders and they placed us last out of the four, awarding the tender to a company controlled by a well-known African businessman.  The minister appeared jubilantly with the winner, and announced a “new era in telecommunications”.

After the announcement of the bidders, I met with my lawyers and we decided to urgently petition the court to undertake a judicial review of the award of the tender. Few people at the time appreciated the existence of this procedure on a public tender.

Our lawyers approached the court and asked that all documents used in the award process be put under court seal. When the order was granted our lawyers rushed to the place where the tender adjudication committee had been holding their  meetings and asked the court officials to place all documents including any notes of the members of the committee found in the room under court seal. It happened so quickly that no one had an opportunity to hide anything!

Months later when the hearing was due to start, lawyers from both sides were allowed to study the sealed documents.

Amongst the documents found was a telefax draft document of the original bid document. It had been sent to the chairman of the committee by the company that was ultimately awarded the tender.

__The date on the fax showed that it had been sent before the tender was published!

During the process of marking, our company had mysteriously been docked points to ensure it came last. When we showed these documents to the judge, he cancelled the license and licensed us instead, as we had actually won, even the rigged tender!

The minister in question accepted the decision of the court, and we were allowed to operate. However, she went ahead to reinstate the license that had been cancelled by a court to the bidder that had cheated so blatantly. No member of the committee including its chair was ever asked to explain.

Amazed?! You should not be. This kind of thing happens all the time.

To be continued…

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

8 Replies to “It’s time to play by a different (ethical) set of rules (Part 5)”

  1. Afterthought 1.
    One of the most corrupt practices involves people who work with some corrupt officials even to even prepare government legislation or laws simply to benefit them personally. People who do this kind of thing always see themselves as being so clever, as never to be caught. What they do not realize is that someone is fully aware of everything. The day those people have the courage to speak out, Africa has changed forever. Maybe you are that person…what was it the Master said?

    …”There is nothing hid that will not be exposed.”

    1. I believe this is a very key step to eradicating corruption, if anyone found guilty of corruption is being punished, this sends signal to others to desist from such acts, but when the institution set to do such is corrupt itself, then, anyone not involved in corruption is going to be getting burned at all times

  2. Afterthought 2.

    One of the most important topics I will tackle in future is the importance of having a judicial system that is prepared to ensure justice. Personally, I believe the courts are the most important institution when it comes to a nation’s ability to attract real investment. When we have brave courageous judges our nations prosper…that is biblical.

  3. Godlove writes,

    Exactly six hours ago, a visiting business person from Bamenda, Cameroon, concluded in similar fashion to your ‘Afterthought 1’, to wit:

    “There is a large, silent majority, that continues to state the contrary of what they observe and know to be the truth.

    They continue to say ‘apples’, when in reality they are looking at bananas, and know them to be such.

    When that majority finally breaks ranks, and speaks out with determination and finality, it’ll be game over for ‘business-as-usual’ in Africa. The tides will turn definitely and irreversibly for the good of Africa.”

    Maybe there’s something in that red lunar eclipse I just witnessed after all!

  4. A spiritual reflection:
    I’m often asked why I have always found it easy to walk away from a great opportunity once I know it is corrupt. My answer might surprise some of you:
    FAITH.
    There is something Jesus said, which has always guided me when I’m confronted with a situation where I have to simply walk away. I believe I will never suffer loss because I walked away from a corrupt deal, even if it was potentially worth billions. Jesus promised in Mark 10:29-30, that I will end up with something that is worth 100 times more…I believe Him. So I always have a big smile on my face.

    Job put it this way:

    “…..and those with Clean hands become stronger and stronger”.Job 17:9)

    Selah (pause and think about it).

  5. Nana Kwame, writes:

    Dear Sir, it would even amaze you to know that our courts are also corrupt. Courts which are set up to seek justice for the common man are headed by corrupt judges who go contrary to the constitution when bribed. An undercover journalist in Ghana exposed 36 Judges in the country who refused to deliver justice because they were bribed. Some of them were bribed with foodstuff and one of them was bribed with sex. The level of corruption on our continent is so appalling… What puts more salt into our injuries is that those who draft our constitution do so to favour themselves and will always come out victorious when sued. Corruption in Africa is embedded in our systems from the bottom to the apex and cannot be completely wiped out. We’ll try all we can but there will always be some evil people who will indulge in such vices. All we can do is stick to our faithfulness and loyalty to mankind and expect God to duly reward us because our systems have interchanged the interpretions of good and evil. Some people might even call you a litigant because you took the matter to court but it was your right. ‪#‎God_bless_Africa‬

    My reply:
    I have been following what happened in Ghana closely, as have many people around the world.
    This is how I choose to see it:
    # I marveled at the journalists that were able to expose this. Someone knew it was going on, and decided to act. All I want to do is to shake hands with these courageous journalists, and those working from behind the scenes, in the court system that helped them… I’m totally inspired by these people.
    # there is always something each one of us can do. I recently met a group of legal activists from South Africa who have started a website to publish every single legal judgement made in their courts. It’s a painstaking process as they have to put all the documents of the case, available in public domain. They don’t question the judgements, they just publish everything without making any comment. Imagine if this happened in every single African country.

  6. Mpho Aliko writes:

    lol Godwin Okoye Chukwuka ,i do not know much of Nigerian politics ,but i know there are some good people in Nigeria in fact a lot,and remember Dr Strive has once won a case in Nigeria ,i think the case took 7 or 6 years am not sure.it was a huge case in the world of business. Yes he won that case in Federal High Court of Nigeria,stay possitive you still have law and order embrace it.

    My reply:
    Some of the most extraordinary judges I have ever encountered were actually in Nigeria. We won all our court cases there, and some of the written judgements were described by our international lawyers as being of world class standard.
    True it took a long time but patience is “fruit of the spirit”, and I have lots of it!

  7. Joshua writes,

    Corruption has eaten so deep ,even the judicial system is corrupt… When we have corrupt judges who then do we table our complains too???

    When I embark on a journey by road transport , I would always want to purchase something to eat along the road, I stretch out my hand saying, Hey Boy!!(11Year old) !!!! Can I have some bananas or some oranges, Couple of times, the little boy would always give me the worst of them all packaged in a sack . Unveiling the package,I always wonder . Why should I be given something bad??? Why would he/she sell the bad stuff to me, maybe because I am in a moving vehicle and he feels I am in a haste… Why should A child of that age (11) have this twisted mind.. This is unacceptable,and it’s very predominate were I live somewhere in Africa… Corruption has eaten so deep,I still believe it begins with me to stop this growing menace.

    Kindly Advice on what to do,when faced with situations like this ..

    My reply:
    The thing that should also bother you, is why is that child not in school? An 11 year old selling fruit on the streets! We have to start changing these things.
    And most importantly, is there anything I personally could do to send a child to school.
    I recently read about a young Indian lady who decided to set up a play group under a tree, and in time it became a national organization. Now she did not have money but she had passion to make a change. In truth that is all it takes. It is the same way we will deal with corruption.

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