As Botswana heads to the polls in about a fortnight, clashes between perceived beneficiaries under the former administration of Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama and pallbearers of the current administration under President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are largely at play – Tizza Seduke of Defence Concepts is one of the characters in this script and he is feeling the pinch of being collateral.
“When two elephants tussle it is the grass that suffers,” as the old adage goes, I could be likened to grass in this case. The current administration sees me as one of the blue eyed boys of the former administration whilst those from the former administration did not want anything to do with me,” cries Tizza Seduke, a self-made businessman who shot to fame when his flying school was linked with former President Khama and the then Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Isaac Kgosi.
“Nothing has ever been far from the truth as this allegation. I own the International Aviation School (IAS) or flying school, neither Kgosi nor Khama has ever been a director or a shareholder of that school. The truth of the matter is that at some point they wanted to take the school away from me and I refused. I was not one of their favourites,” declared Seduke.
Seduke’s company, Defence Concepts, has done work for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) during Kgosi’s time, but according to Seduke, he only got one job back in 2013, “we never got any other job with the DIS”. He said the job they got was the P49 million Mahalapye Prison fencing through an open tender process. We beat a company that had quoted P39 million for the job because we are the exclusive suppliers of the material that was required for the job. After quoting P39 million, that company was still going to come back to us for supply of the wire,” he explained.
Seduke’s company had caught the eye of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), after it was awarded a P49 million tender for the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence. Although the project fell under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, it was coordinated by DISS which falls under the Office of the President. Contrary to popular belief that the tender was allocated through a selective tendering process, where Defence Concepts was identified as the preferred supplier without going to open tender, Seduke stresses that they were competing with another company which had actually quoted lower.
“The other challenge for our competitor in this job is that they did not have a PPADB Grade E.” Seduke said like any company he had been ‘marketing’ his products and services, hence DIS recognized him as a professional company, “I had no say in their procurement process. I only responded to invitations and gave service to the best of my ability,” he stressed. He shared that he did fencing solutions for the DIS because he was the exclusive provider of the fence they required. According to Seduke, it was for DIS management to ensure that procurement procedures were followed.
Seduke also confirmed that the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) had approached his business operations for auditing. “As Batswana we stigmatize the mandate of BURS when they audit our companies. This does not mean that there is always something wrong. It’s to encourage compliance. They have audited me before and it was not the first time and it was nothing unusual,” he said. Seduke said he does not see this as a witch-hunt, the only thing that worries him is that people link his businesses with Khama and Kgosi “which is unfair”. “Those people had actually attempted to close me down,” he said.
THE KGOSI FALLOUT
In an interview recently, Seduke confirmed that he has been investigated by the DCEC as part of the agency’s investigation against Kgosi and the DIS among others. “Yes DCEC has investigated me. The allegations surrounded us being engaged by DIS, that was around 2012 and I submitted a statement to DCEC. Since then they have never approached me in relation to those issues.”
He explained that there was confusion as to how the tender shifted from Ministry of Defence Justice and Security to Office of the President, “Remember that in 2017 there was a breakout at Mahalapye prison after Prisons department failed to get the tender or the job done. Since this was seen as a security threat, DIS got involved to coordinate whole project and they ran an Expression of Interest to which we responded,” he said.
Seduke stated that during the interview the DCEC had wanted to know if he was paid in cash or transfers, “I told them the truth as I know it. There was nothing to hide hence my name was cleared.” He said a few of his payments were made in cash. “After this interaction with the DCEC I had a fallout with Kgosi, I could not tell why but I suspected it was borne from my revelations that I was paid in cash,” he said.
According to Seduke Kgosi has not spoken to him since the day he was interviewed by the DCEC and he has not been invited to tender for any job at the DIS. “It is unfortunate that I continue to be linked with DIS jobs when I was long blacklisted for telling the DCEC the truth that I knew.” When asked if he had any personal relationship with Kgosi, Seduke said he had a working relationship with Kgosi “due to the fact that he is someone who is hands on.”
SEDUKE AND THE KHAMA LINK
When asked about his relationship with former President Khama, Seduke was quick to point out that he had met him only on three occasions and at a distance. “I only met Khama last year for the first time in what I would say was a close proximity.” Seduke said people link him to Khama because his Flying School (IAS) is located within the same compound as the Flying Club. “The Flying Club owns the land and we are renting from them. We pay them P15 000 per month,” he said. Khama is the patron of the Flying Club.
Seduke however admitted that his school took advantage of the Flying club Patrons Dinner by staging their graduation ceremonies on the same dates as the dinner. He said he has not engaged Khama on any subject related to his businesses, “I was doing my businesses in a clean manner and I did not want to ingratiate myself to powers that be for my success, I had worked for it,” he said. He said he was aware of allegations that he was fronting for some influential individuals in the society. “There is nothing for me to hide. There has never been an influential individual who is a shareholder or has beneficial interest in my companies. Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) is there to find out,” he said.
THE FLYING SCHOOL IS IN TROUBLE
As of now Seduke’s Flying School is in trouble and he may be forced to retrench workers soon. The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) has declined to accredit the school and Government is not sending students for training at the school instead South African schools are preferred. “But is it interesting that the Aviation Body, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) which accredited by ICAO, has assessed our school and equipment and found them worthy,” said Seduke.
He said he wants to ensure that he satisfies BQA standards hence he pushed for CAAB to assess his school. “Prior to 2016 the entire delta was flooded with white South African pilots and after we graduated a number of pilots the localization initiative gained traction at the delta,” said Seduke. Seduke is currently engaging BQA on accreditation of his school and “I hope this has nothing to do with the notion that Khama or Kgosi are part my school, they have never been and they will never be. I refused to sell my school to certain people linked to them,” he said.
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