Government has this week terminated the awarding of a P28 million pula road tender to Emark (Pty) Ltd under dubious circumstances. The tender involves a works contract for resealing and road marking of Tshootsha – Mamuno road section II (40km).
The decision by government was taken last week following this publication’s revealing story that some government big shots were caught up in the controversial multimillion tender brawl. This comes after a contractor in the said tender Moira (Pty) Ltd raised the red flag over what they said are matters of clear malpractice and maladministration of government funds.
The termination of the contractor award barely follows government’s recent decision to reverse 4 billion worth tenders, in particular the immediate blacklisting of China Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of China Jiangsu International – over alleged bribery claims (corrupt practices). In a separate confidential letter this week announcing the contract termination by government, dated 12 February 2019, the Roads department under Ministry of Transport and Communication notified Emark which was allocated the tender that “it is cancelled.”
A contractor that bid the said tender of reference no. MTC 240/55/2017-2018 had earlier pointed out some basic contractual contraventions between Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), department of Roads and Emark, the contractor awarded. The matter also landed at the Office of the President (OP).
The cutting classified letter passed to WeekendPost and signed by Acting Director of Roads Reason Lekutlane states “we refer to the above tender and hereby cancel the tender aforesaid on your account of your failure to provide valid Performance Security Guarantee issued by a bank or Insurance Company contrary to the conditions of Old Mutual.” The Acting Director of Roads further observed that the purported Performance Security guarantee has been forged by the said company, Emark.
Lekutlane highlighted to the company that “the purported Performance Bond Guarantee as well as the Advance Payment Guarantee issued on a letter head of Old Mutual are said to be forgeries and therefore not valid according to the Portfolio Manager of Old Mutual.” “The contract is therefore cancelled immediately and forthwith by reason of the purported submission of fraudulent documents,” he stressed.
The fraudulent activity was also confirmed by Old Mutual Short Term Insurance (Botswana) Limited, Portfolio Manager Tshipinare Phele in another top secret letter to the Ministry of Transport and Communications and in particular Department of Roads. In his letter also dated 12 February 2019, Phele stated that “I would like to state and confirm that I, Tshipinare Gofaone Phele of I.D no. 090318617 working for Old Mutual Short-Term Insurance Botswana (OMSTIB), in my capacity as Portfolio Manager DID NOT sign, neither initial nor stamp any Performance Bond Guarantee/Surety document for the companies Mod’s services (Pty) Ltd and Emark Enterprises (Pty) Ltd, or for whichever company, pertaining to the Works Contracts of resealing and road marking of the stated roads tenders: tender no. MTC240/5/55/2017-2018(2).”
He further on stated that he does not even know the stated companies in question. “I would like to also state that I have no knowledge of the above stated companies, nor have I ever met and know their representatives. The signatures and handwritings are not mine, and so they were done fraudulently.” The Old Mutual official explained that the Old Mutual Short Term Insurance Botswana does not even offer the Performance Bond Guarantee cover hence they do not hold any form of cover/policy for the said companies.
He also revealed that “please also note that Old Mutual Shot Term Insurance Botswana went through rebranding and that we also changed our letterheads in and around September 2018, so as such there is no how I could have issued the letter in the old letterhead as in the Performance Bond Guarantee letters provided by December 2018.” Following the shadowy revelations, the mysterious termination of the tender also follows a recommendation from the Ministerial Tender Committee to the department of Roads.
“The Ministerial Tender Committee at its special sitting of the 12th February 2019, approved your recommendation for cancellation of contract and withdrawal of award of tender for reseal and road marking of Tshotsha – Mamuno road section II (40km) tender in respect of Emark (Pty) Ltd,” Chairperson of Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) Maipelo Ragalase who is also the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, stated in another letter.
In light of the termination of the contract, the department of Roads were also advised to “report this matter to the relevant authorities.” It is understood that through MTC Chairperson’s affidavit, there are certain matters of clear malpractice and maladministration of government funds which have been committed by both herself and the Director of Roads.
Chief among the irregularities, Kgotso Botlhole of Lekorwe Legal Consultants, on behalf of Moira (Pty) Ltd cited that: “first, the Director of Roads issued a notice of commencement handing over the site to Emark without first having received a performance bond giving security in favour of the government of Botswana for Emark’s performance of the works.”
He stressed that the letter of acceptance is dated 17 December 2018 while Emark issued a letter dated 14 January 2019 apparently attaching a performance bond only issued by Old Mutual two days later, and on 16 January 2019. The rushed letter is now reportedly said to have been forged.
According to Botlhole “Director of Roads, Modisa Segokgo, also authorized the occupation of site and the commencement of works by a civil contractor for the project (28 million pula) to be paid by the government, without first ensuring that security is furnished to the government for the performance of the contract by Emark.”
The Moira company attorney, the enterprise which lost the bid in the second position as they ran short of half a million to reach the 28 million mark, said therefore that “this is a clear act of unlawful maladministration inexplicably placing the government at an unnecessary and wholly avoidable fiscal risk. This behavior does not conform with the letter of acceptance, nor to any government standard practice (in tendering).”
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.