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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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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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