Khama name used as shield in BTO tender row
President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s name has allegedly been used to scare off police officers who were inquiring about potential corruption that could have taken place at the Botswana Tourism Board (BTO), following the awarding of a P 1 million tender to a company called African Points Solutions (APS) without due process.
The controversy prone organisation found itself implicated in yet another tender scandal when reports emerged towards the end of 2017 that the quasi-government institution, under the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism casually awarded the management of the P1 million Heart of the City Carnival event to a company owned by individuals with links to the Khamas.
The company is linked to the Khama family in various respects among them through association with the Lady Khama Charitable Trust, which has been cited as among the beneficiaries of the company. Sources are also of the view that the Lady Khama Charitable Trust is being used as a conduit to ‘clean’ the money that was acquired through inappropriate means from government. There is wide belief that the actual beneficiary is Tshekedi Khama.
Company documents reveal that one of the shareholders of the company is Nathaniel Tlhalerwa, who works directly under President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s office as the director responsible for the Presidential Inspectorate Task Team. His duties among others are to inspect, asses and advice the president [Khama] on the viability and risks associated with flagship programmes. Tlhalerwa previously also worked as deputy coordinator for BOT50, and was vital in preparations leading to the celebrations.
A whistle blower within BTO has reportedly talked to the police about the happenings at the BTO following this publication’s breaking of the story in its 2017 last edition. According to sources, when approached for questioning by the police, Thalerwa deployed intimidation tactics telling the police “not to be involved in a matter which was being dealt with by the Office of the President”.
According to sources, Tlhalerwa spit on the faces of the junior police officers, telling them that he would only entertain their bosses who are at senior level. WeekendPost has also been informed by insiders that there are employees within the procurement division who opposed the awarding of the tender to APS because it did not meet basic procurement requirements.
This publication indicated that APS had no compliance documents upon awarding of the project to them. The company only got the documents after they were given the tender. The compliance documents include the trading licence, tax clearance, and PPADB registration. The tender was also not advertised.
The Purchase Orders that this publication has seen show that they were issued before compliance documents were submitted. The company had its first tax clearance on the 15 November 2017 and exemption for licence from the Gaborone City Council (GCC) while BTO on the other hand made its first Purchase Order to the company on the 26th of October 2017. Despite opposition from BTO staff the deal when on, and the company was awarded the management of the event.
Heart of the City, which was held on the 16th of December 2017, is an annual event that happens at the end of the year staged to herald the Christmas Season. The event is aimed at reviving and celebrating the history of the Main Mall as well as showcasing the diverse cultures of the people of Botswana.
BTO itself has been subject of probing by the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises since 2016. It has been established that incidences of undermining public procurement laws and procedures are on the rise, with ministers and boards engaging on contracts with their preferred companies contrary to the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) procedures.
Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has recently been forced to cancel some of the procurement decisions he was involved in at BTO without following due process. This included the planned opening of an office in Dubai because it was not budgeted for, and a proper process relating to use of public money was not followed.
Recently Khama also got his way with a British company called ASUIA, which was brought on board as a technical partner in collection of the planned tourism levy to be collected from visiting tourists in the country’s entry points. Under the new proposal, ASUIA would have been entitled to one third (33.3 percent) of the total collection every month. This translated to about P2.5 million monthly and P30 million annually.
Again the engagement of the company failed to meet the basic procurement requirements. WeekendPost has also learnt that another plan, to give APS management rights of the popular Khawa Dune Challenge was being hatched. The Khawa Dune Challenge is being sponsored by BTO.
This publication is in possession of email communication with details of how APS would be handed on a silver platter the management tender. Three BTO staff members were to benefit from the deal. The three (names known to this publication) were to be given P20 000, p15 000 and P10 000 respectively for apparently playing their part in facilitating the deal.
TLHALERWA TELLS HIS SIDE OF THE STORY
According to the centre man, Nathaniel Tlhalerwa, there is a lot of misinformation with regards to the management of the event and how the APS ended up being involved with the BTO. He said their partnership was not a tender because the company already had its own initiative when the BTO asked to be part of it.
“We had our own event planned for that day, and BTO proposed to partner with us. Even the P1 million that is being mentioned, did not actually come to the company but majority of the money went to the service providers. Also as a public servant, I am obliged to declare my business interest, which I have done.” Thalerwa said he is being victimised unfairly because he is an employee of the Office of the President.
“I have never been called for questioning by the Police. Even if they wanted to do so, there is a clear process to follow. For someone at my senior position, they would have to write to my supervisor informing them of their intentions. No one has done so as far as I know. Reports that I was questioned are wrong.”
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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.
BDP MPs demand review of Ministers performance
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers were left frustrated when State Minister Kabo Morwaeng failed to furnish them with reports from various ministries at a party retreat held last month.
The two-day retreat of BDP MPs at Notwane Farms was held to discuss the implementation and progress of government projects in line with the party’s 2019 general elections manifesto, in order to assert themselves and press the President to take action against ineffective members of his cabinet. They believed that the laxity of these members could cost them the elections next year.
To accomplish this, the party had requested that each ministry submit their reports to the State Ministry, as it was the most senior ministry. These reports were expected to be assessed at the retreat to evaluate service delivery and the implementation of the party manifesto.
The ministries submitted their performance reports to the Ministry as agreed, but Masisi and the MPs did not have the opportunity to review them. This was the main agenda of the retreat, but when it commenced, and many were anticipating the reports, they were nowhere to be found.
“Minister Morwaeng told us (MPs) that he forgot to prepare them, and as a result, there was nothing to discuss. He said he would share those reports in our WhatsApp group. To us, that was an insult because it is a very serious matter, and we needed to discuss it and see which ministry is failing and how it can be assisted to ensure that service delivery is met,” revealed one MP to WeekendPost.
Reliable sources have informed this publication that one of the reasons why the reports were not shared is due to the poor performance of the State Ministry. It is said that the Minister decided not to share the reports because it would portray him as incompetent, especially since President Masisi was present and seeking suggestions from MPs.
It is understood that the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, performed well, while the Ministry of Health and the State Ministry performed poorly.
The MPs are primarily concerned about the lack of correlation between the ministries’ recurrent and development budgets.
“You would notice that in some cases, a ministry would spend their recurrent budget accordingly, but when you look at their development expenditure, it is at 15 percent. That’s the money that should ensure that people receive services and amenities, and we wanted to advise ministers to communicate with bureaucrats to address this,” added the MP.
Without the reports, and with the expected agenda now in tatters, it is said that President Masisi asked MPs to come up with suggestions on how to win public confidence to secure victory in the next elections. It was at this point that backbenchers asked President Mokgweetsi Masisi to crack the whip on ineffectual ministers who had failed to fulfill their mandates. MPs expressed their concerns to the President, particularly regarding the state of affairs at the hospitals.
“There is a serious shortage of medicines and personnel in our areas, especially in rural areas. We have been complaining about this situation for some time, but there seems to be no change,” one MP told WeekendPost.
“The state of our roads and infrastructure is in disrepair. What irks us the most is that we have been complaining about these things for some time, but there has been no change. We demand progress.”
The issue of poor delivery and the significant deficit in the ruling party’s election promises is so severe that President Masisi had his ministers sign performance agreements and annual performance plans. The President effectively read them the riot act, informing them that they would be fired if they continued to fall short in delivering on their mandates.
He told journalists at a press conference that he recently had a serious engagement with Minister of Health Minister Dr. Edwin Dikoloti and Assistant Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe regarding the deplorable state of affairs at public health facilities.