Controversial DIS, Dignia contract flouted PPADB Act
A contract between the coveted Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) and a controversial Israeli company Dignia (Pty) Ltd involving the acquisition of security equipment and surveillance platform with associated training has flouted basic tendering procedures, Weekend Post has learnt.
The revelations have been exposed in the Attorney General’s highly classified report titled “Preliminary findings by the Attorney General on the contract between Office of the President and Dignia Systems (Pty) Ltd for the acquisition of security equipment and surveillance platform with association training.” The report unearthed many shocking revelations on the controversial DIS and the Dignia company and exposed that in essence the contract is not in compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Act.
In the confidential report, the AG found out that “the effective date of the contract is not stipulated” and that there is “no indication that the request for quotation method was authorized by PPADB” on the duo’s agreement. It further goes on to highlight that the contract also exceeds both the Request for Quotation (RFQ) and Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) thresholds. The AG also found out that: “no invitation to tender was floated which could have clearly stipulated the deliverables, meaning the deliverables are only known to the contractor” which is against established tendering norms.
In addition, the Attorney General pointed out that “payment was effected before delivery and no advance payment guarantee has been provided by the contractor.” Furthermore, the secret report brought to light that there are also “no provisions for risk of loss exposing government to risk and possible loss in the event something happens to the goods whilst on transit before delivery” adding that there are also “no provisions for defect liabilities, warranties and quality assurance checks.”
The findings also uncovered that the contract does not make provision for withholding taxes that are due on each component of the contract. In light of the sneering AG findings, the new DIS Director General Peter Magosi earlier in July wrote to the controversial Israeli company, in particular Mordechai Barashi informing him to find time to meet up and discuss further the dubious contract that was entered in by the company and ex spy Chief Isaac Kgosi at the time he was at the helm.
Magosi told Barashi that: “kindly find attached the points raised by the Attorney General which are fundamental in crafting the way forward in implementing this contract. I hope you will find time to indulge and reflect on the points raised and act accordingly.” He further stated that “in that regard I invite Dignia System Ltd to a meeting in Gaborone, Botswana preferably on the 29th to 30th July 2018 failing which the alternative date would be 5th to 6th August 2018. The purpose of the meeting will be to resolve the issues as raised herein by the Attorney General.”
Earlier on, in June, Kenamile Badubi who was acting for Director General Peter Magosi also wrote to Barashi at Dignia System Ltd highlighting that they “have since received feedback from the Attorney General regarding the status of the contract.” Badubi stressed that “the contract has been found to be in contravention against the PPADB rules and regulations.” He said the Attorney General has also noticed that the due diligence in crafting the contract was not followed hence a lot of mistakes and omissions which render the contract implementation impossible.
“In that regard, we have been advised to renegotiate and re-draft the contract and align it with the laws governing procurement in Botswana and the requirements of the regulatory bodies.” Before that, on May Magosi also wrote: “As you are aware, Col. Isaac Kgosi is no longer the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) of Botswana. I also understand that your company Dignia Systems Ltd and/or Aeronautics Ltd had earlier made some arrangements involving training in various courses. The Director Training is equally not privy to the details of the contract pertaining to the provision of these training courses.”
The irregularities in the deal compelled Magosi to suspend the contract for the acquisition of security equipment and surveillance platform with associated training. The deal was financed by the biggest financial scandal in the country involving P230 million that was diverted from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) last year by the intelligence organ under Kgosi. The money was transferred to the DIS for construction of fuel storage tanks before being diverted for the alleged purchase of military hardware from Dignia Systems. Meanwhile Gaborone socialite and businessman Bakang Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang are facing money-laundering charges in relation to the contract in question while Kgosi is still at large.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”
Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.
“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”
“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”