The History Of: Shady Contracts!

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The regime of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai seems to be getting its share of bombardment from critics over the form and manner in which contracts intended for public good are negotiated and secured for implementation. During the first Cabinet Retreat of the Boakai-led government, it emerged newsworthy that about 285 pieces of earth-moving equipment are expected to be delivered to the government in anticipation of the regime planned road connectivity across the country. Certainly, the news broken by Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mamaka Bility  at the foremost Cabinet Retreat  undoubtedly pointed at the direction of one of President Boakai’s  2023 campaign promises; that when elected ‘no car will hitch in the mud’ in the country. The 285 pieces of earth-moving in question are reportedly expected to be produced by South African businessman named Robert Gumede through his Chinese-related company called Guma Group. However, critics of the Boakia-led government seem to be uncomfortable with the alleged character and integrity of Businessman Gumede who is said to be linked to criminality. Moreover, the trend of negotiation in securing the equipment for Liberia is yet unclear but critics feel very strongly that the process baffles transparency and accountability against Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) threshold. Still seemingly troubling is that the biggest picture of the deal is said to be Mount Wolozi offer to the Guma Group of Companies for exploration IN Liberia under the Boakai’s regime. But what is the profile of Guma Group?   The Guma Group is a black owned, hands-on operations and investment power house intensely focused on adding value and initiating growth by means of operations and managerial participation. Guma works very closely with Chinese and European State owned Entities which seek investment opportunities in Africa. The Head Office handles all strategic and partner relationships, strategic sales and business development of the various Guma Group companies. Some of Guma companies are in Information Communications Technologies (ICT), Railways, Energy generation, Water & Sanitation, Tourism , Construction & Engineering , Mining , Business Consulting , Private Equity , Human Capital Management & Training , Transport & products Logistics , Private Public Partnerships , Project Structured Finance , Property & Retail Development sectors.  The various companies of the group run independent of each other but pull together for synergies when required.  Guma’s strategy is to create centers of excellence in each operating company. Gumede, self-made African business person and entrepreneur founded The Guma Group of Companies. Robert Gumede is a South African serial entrepreneur and executive chairman of Guma Group. Gumede is Executive Chairman of Guma Group, he was the Co-Chairman for the BRICS Business Forum in Sanya CHINA representing South Africa. He is a global entrepreneur, philanthropist and Pan-African visionary business leader. He founded his company Guma after His Excellency Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years of prison incarceration and became the first democratic elected President of South Africa .  It was only from 1994, that Black South Africans could freely take part as businessmen in South Africa. He was born in Mpumalanga Province during the Apartheid era after Nelson Mandela got jailed. He was born among seven siblings of a single mom who was a live-in domestic worker.  To lend support to his mom at an early age of 7, he begun to work as a golf caddy. He also became a gardener for some of the golfers after school and over the weekend. At 12 years old he joined his sister in selling used clothes. When his sister enrolled to be a nurse Robert Gumede continued and made a success of the clothing business. Gumede studied law and became a State Prosecutor.  After few years as Prosecutor, he resigned to pursue his business interests.  From humble beginnings he has built a global group of diversified companies. He is also a kind-hearted and philanthropist who never forgets his roots.  He annually invests a lot of his wealth to the needy, in particular in young people and single mothers education. His initiative through his Robert Gumede Family Keni Foundation to give scholarships to children of single mothers is his passion. Gumede has gone back to the Nelspruit Golf Club to invest money on the welfare of the caddies. He is a golfer even though he took on golf whilst he was a caddie , there were no golf courses for Blacks.  Today the Nelspruit Golf Club is now named after him as an honor for his investment to the club.  He is so close to the golf course in that he even got married on the fairways of the golf club. Guma through its various companies employs over 10 000 staff members globally . The group companies has some of the top multinational companies as clients or partners . Robert Gumede is a hands-on business person in all his businesses. Gumede as an African Industrialist aims to develop most of the countries on the African continent, to create economic growth that will yield sustainable jobs. He believes in Africa and knows that Africa needs a lot of infrastructure development like yesterday.  Most of the existing infrastructure in most countries was for the benefit of the minority colonial powers who lived in this country.  Since independence some of this country because of dire economic situation have not invested in maintenance or new infrastructures to serve the urbanized masses. Gumede is well-known, respected and is friends to many Heads of States / Presidents, Monarchs and Government leaders. He advises many Heads of States in economic development.  Gumede is passionate about sharing his wisdom to young people and is also a most sought after speaker at various business and socio political conferences in the world. Gumede believes in the growth of small and medium businesses as the vanguard of the economy of every country.  Small businesses create the much-needed sustainable jobs. In spite of this impressive profile, critics say Gumede has serious character problem to rely on; as such the government of Liberia needs to be very careful in entering into negotiation with the Guma Group especially when Mt. Wolozi has to be used as a sacrificial line for road development purpose in Liberia.  The Guma Group of Companies shootout appearing controversial has brought into swift reflection, the regime of former President George Manneh Weah when from the onset this administration hit the ground running to engage into a coastal highway road construction from Cape Mount in western Liberia to Cape Palmas in Southeast Liberia at the time. At the time surfaced the name- ETON, EBOMAF Loan Agreement passed into law by the 54th National Legislature which was called the ETON Finance PLT Limited. President Weah at the signing ceremony held in the C. Cecil Dennis Conference Hall at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia lauded members of the 54th Legislature for ratifying the loans. He noted that the signing into law of the two loan agreements would enable his administration to immediately embark upon infrastructure projects that are intended to improve the living conditions of ordinary Liberians. President Weah then noted that he intended to ensure that by the end of his term in office  would have connected all of the 15 counties of Liberia by paved « all-weather roads, » stressing, « This is the promise I made to the Liberian people and a pledge I intend to keep. »

According to him, the new road network would not only enhance economic growth and development, but would also provide easy access to health, education, employment, agriculture and other opportunities that would improve the wellbeing of the citizenry. He emphasized that the roads, when completed, would ensure a more socially cohesive and united population, « where our citizens will be able to travel and interact with one another more easily through dialogue, which enhances peace, understanding and tolerance.  The construction of these roads is the center piece of our Pro-Poor Agenda which ultimate objective is to lift Liberians from poverty. This is my commitment, focus, legacy and permanent and perpetual inheritance that I will leave behind when my tenure in office is over and for the generation yet unborn, ». At the ceremony, the President of EBOMAF Group, Bonkoungou Mohamoudou assured President Weah that Liberia would get the 337 kilometre of well-constructed roads as enshrined in the agreement. The EBOMAF Chief Executive noted that his company would do all it could to ensure that President Weah’s mandate is fully upheld and implemented. Representing ETON Financing, the Vice President of the Bong Mine Pier on Bushrod Island, Jeong ho Kim assured President Weah of the company’s commitment to source the funding in order to build a quality coastal road that would meet international standards. It could be recalled that the Government of Liberia, through the Executive Branch signed two separate financing agreements with ETON Finance PTE Limited and EBOMAF SA in the tone of US$536.4 million and US$420.8 million respectively for the construction of major road projects across the country. The two loan agreements were overwhelmingly ratified by the Legislature and forwarded to President Weah for signing into law, which was officially done on Thursday, June 14 in Monrovia at the time. The project would have  also seen the pavement of the road network from Buchanan to Cestos; Cestos to Greenville; Greenville to Barclayville; and Barclayville to Pleebo. The project would have also seen the pavement of the Tubmanburg to Bopolu and the Medina to Robertsport road corridors. The EBOMAF SA Financing Agreement would have now seen the construction of the Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor Road; Tappita to Zwedru, and Zwedru to Greenville, as well as the Toe Town to La Cote d’Ivoire border corridors. However, dream did not materialize as controversy surrounding the deal pressurized the very 54th National Legislature to push for cancellation of the ratification due to the manner and form in which the loans were negotiated. Boakai, Weah


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