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PPADB, DPS, Director of Roads caught up in P28 million tender row

A contractor has raised a red flag over what he says are matters of clear malpractice and maladministration of government funds. In a scathing letter passed to Weekend Post, Moira (Pty) Ltd attorney raises some basic contractual contraventions between Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), department of Roads and the contractor awarded.

The contractor conferred, Emark (Pty) Ltd, has been awarded the tender in question at a whopping P28 million under dubious circumstances. The tender comprises a “works contract for the resealing and road marking of Tshootsha – Mamuno road section II (40km) tender no. MTC 240/55/2017-2018.” Office of the President has this week been informed of the tender dispute.  

In the dispute, Kgotso Botlhole of Lekorwe Legal Consultants, on behalf of Moira (Pty) Ltd, urged the OP in a scathing letter to halt implementation of the said multimillion road project until the matter is resolved at the courts. Information reaching Weekend Post suggests that the contractor (Emark) wants to implement the project so that they use the move as an excuse in case they lose the matter at the courts – where they believe it will be too late.   

In the said letter to OP titled, “complaint of serious maladministration by the Director of the Department of Roads and the Chairperson of the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication/Moira (Pty) Ltd, (which is the client) /PPADB, Attorney General and Emark Enterprises (Pty) Ltd – case no: UAHGB – 00029 – 19” the contractor queries some essential tender procedures in the awarding of the tender.

The letter dated 5 February 2019 and which was copied to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kabelo Ebineng as well as to PPADB urges Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi to tread carefully not to implement the project until justice is reached.

“Our client is currently engaged in litigation commenced on an urgent basis against the Department of Roads (represented by AG) seeking to halt the implementation of a works contract titled “a works contract for the resealing and road marking of Tshootsha – Mamuno road section II  (40km) tender no. MTC 240/55/2017-2018” which was awarded to Emark (Pty) Ltd,” attorney Botlhole told the highest decision making office in the country.  

He further pointed out that having perused Maipelo Ragalase’s affidavit, who is the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, 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 he 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.” This is notwithstanding that in the letter of acceptance concluding a contract with Emark for the performance of the works, a certain paragraph in question therefore clearly provides that:

“You shall agree to submit a Performance Security bond of 5% of the amount as stated in this letter of acceptance as per clause 4.2 of condition of contract for construction for building and engineering works designed by the employer within 28 calendar days from the date of acceptance of this letter (date of signing the contract acknowledgement), following the receipt of which, the engineer’s order to commence work will be issued,” the lawyer pointed this to OP as his main area of ‘emphasis.’  

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. “Irrespective of when the bond was actually provided between these two dates, the Director has already issued a notice to Emark for the commencement of the works on 11 January 2019,”Botlhole highlighted to the Office of the President.

He also claimed to OP that the Director of Roads, Modisa Segokgo, authorized the occupation of site and the commencement of works by a civil contractor for a project awarded in the amount of P 28, 046, 343. 22 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, which lost the bid in the second position as they ran short of half a million to reach the 28 million mark, said “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 standard government practice.”  

Secondly, the attorney further told OP that PPADB, acting in terms of Regulation 79(1) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulations S.I. 12 of 2006 (Regulations) issued a directive to the Chairperson of the MTC and the Department of Roads to cease all procurement processes related to the tender pending the resolution of their client’s complaint, which was pending before it. The letter communicating this directive is dated 11 January 2019, he said.  

“In her affidavit Ag. DPS (Corporate Services) Ragalase claims to have only seen the letter on 16 January 2019, after the Director had (unlawfully) issued a notice to commence the works. Be that as it may, the actions of both Ms. Ragalase and the Director thereafter do not demonstrate any level of adherence to the directive issued by PPADB,” Botlhole pointed out.

This is so because, he said a payment certificate was submitted in favour of Emark for the mobilization (advance payment) of the project on the very next day of 17 January 2019; and on 25 January 2019, the payment certificate was checked by one L. Lekgaotswe and approved on this date. Thereafter, he added that the Director of Roads inspects the certificate and requests that payment be made on 29 January 2019.

He continued: “he does so despite having been served with our client’s application on the same date. The payment is then received by the accounts department on 30 January 2019 and sent to government revenue office on 31 January 2019.” According to Botlhole, the conduct of both the Director and Ms. Ragalase clearly disregards the directive issued to them by PPADB and Regulation 79(1). Instead of seeking to halt the implementation of the works, he said they do the opposite, frantically seeking to implement the contract without following due process, such as taking receipt of the relevant bonds, and awaiting a decision from the PPADB. As at the date of this letter, he mentioned that the PPADB is yet to determine his client’s complaint.

Thirdly, and similar to how the Director issued a notice to commence without first taking receipt a performance bond from Emark, the Director has authorised the payment of advance payment without first taking receipt of the advance payment guarantee (bond), the attorney highlighted to Carter Morupisi.

“We believe these administrative irregularities by both the Chairperson and the Director are serious in nature, and warrant that your esteemed office investigate what we have alleged in herein and take disciplinary action against both the Director and the Chairperson. It appears quite clearly to us that they are hastily trying to implement the award of the tender, on the misguided belief that this will frustrate the relief sought by our client in the intended review application.”

Conduct such as what we have detailed above seriously erodes public confidence in the procurement processes employed by government, he said adding that there is no rational/acceptable reason to explain the conduct of these two officers. “If the government itself does not comply with the laws it created, it losses its legitimacy and becomes a catalyst for inexplicable and corrupt practices. These officers must be called to account, and we beseech your esteemed office to act accordingly,” he said.  

Temporarily, when approached for a comment on the matter, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication Kabelo Ebineng said he cannot immediately remember details to the disputed matter and instead referred this publication to the Director of Roads Segokgo. Segokgo was said to be outside the office at the time of press. However, his deputy, Kitso Chibule spoke to this publication but could not be drawn into the issue at hand and instead referred this reporter back to the PS in the Ministry.

Meanwhile, in the court case PPADB is one of the respondents cited in the matter and they have not opposed the relief sought by Moira and they have instead filed a notice to abide. AG filed an answering affidavit opposing the application on behalf of both the Chairperson of the MTC and the Department of Roads.

The affidavit is disposed to by Maipelo Ragalase, the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication. She is also the Chairperson of the MTC in question.
The parties appeared before Acting Judge Khan on 31 January 2019, who decided having heard the parties briefly, that the AG be given time to file its answering affidavit before the matter is heard on 6 February 2019. The case continues.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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