The involvement of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) in the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence has raised eyes bows after the tender was awarded to the company which has been perennially benefiting from the intelligence tenders.
Although the project fell under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, this week Weekend Post was informed by the ministry officials that the project was coordinated by the DIS as well as the Botswana Prison Service with the support of Department of Building and Engineering Services. DIS is under a different ministry, at Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.
The project, according to the ministry of defence’s procurement plan submitted to Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB), was estimated to cost P8 million but it was eventually built at the cost of P54.3 million. The project was awarded to Rosita Enterprises (Pty) Ltd trading as Defence Concepts Botswana through the selective tendering process. According to Ikwatlhaeng Bagopi, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, the procurement method was through expression of interest by potential bidders, with only two companies, the other being Mapande Investment showing capability, resulting in their invitation to tender.
The company which won the tender, Defence Concepts had long documented close relations with DIS as their preferred supplier, winning multimillion tenders during the reign of Colonel Isaac Kgosi as Director General of the spy organisation. Kgosi’s association with the company has been called into question on numerous occasions, with some alleging that the company was unfairly benefiting from government tenders under the disguise of direct appointment or selective tendering, which closed out other competitors.
The Mahalapye Prison Fencing project entails; demolition/ dismantling of existing razor mesh fence backfill and cart away rubble from site; supply, delivery and erection of 600mm high outer perimeter fence; supply delivery and erection of 3000mm high inner perimeter fence; supply, delivery and erection of 3000mm high partitioning perimeter fence; supply, delivery and installation of security gate; as well as supply and pour concrete to foundations.
PROJECT DELAYS AND INCCURRED EXPENSES
Despite conflicting information regarding the status of the project, Bagopi insists that the project is 100 percent complete pending cleaning of the site. The project commenced on the 24 of February 2017, with an anticipated completion date being 25 September 2017. However, the project could not be completed within the initial agreed date, leading to an extension to the 25 February 2018. Government has so far paid the contractor P48. 5 million, with the final amount expected to be P54.3 million.
The P54.3 million that government will eventual pay to the contractor is P46 million more than what the Ministry of Defence had initially estimated in their procurement plan submitted to the PPADB. The primary mandate of PPADB is to adjudicate and award tenders for Central Government and any other institutions specified under the Act for the delivery of works, services and supplies. However, tenders under P300 million in values are delegated to Ministerial Tender Committees (MTCs).
Explaining the occurrences which led to delay and government incurring the cost, Bagopi said: “The project was delayed due to additional time to cover those works and late delivery of material from external suppliers.” Bagopi indicated that government incurred additional cost because of increase in quantities of material, which in turn affected the programme.
“At present, there is no extension of time with cost, if any they will be discussed during the final payment. Project is now due for final measurement in which we will consider liabilities for late delivery of the project to either party,” he said. “Initially when the project scope was developed, the new fence was planned in such a way that it was going to be built over the footprint of the old fence.” Bagopi argued that this would have required that the old fence be removed first before constructing the new fence.
“This would have compromised the security of the prison facility,” he said. “The other issue was existence of under-ground services that also contributed to moving the fence outward by 7 metres. This created an increase in the length of the fence.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.