The University of Botswana management has decided to renter the catering job which was initially awarded to Boitekanelo Catering Services, a company owned by Dr Tiro Mampane and Dr Gagoitsiwe Saleshando. However, the losing bidder, Moghul Catering who has been doing the job for over two decades queried alleging conflict of interest on the part of former UB Deputy Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs, Prof Lydia Ramahobo-Saleshando.
Ramahobo-Saleshando is married to Dr Gagoitsiwe Saleshando’s father, Gilson Saleshando who is former President of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Moghul challenged the decision to award the job to Boitekanelo is court, with the UB reluctant to participate in the court process it was evident that the only way out was to retender.
On the 11th of May this year a letter was sent out by the UB management to Boitekanelo Catering Services stating that there had been irregularities in the tendering process at the level of the evaluation committee, in that the Chairperson, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Professor Lydia Saleshando had chaired the earlier evaluation meetings when she should not have done so in terms of the University Tender Regulations and Procurement Procedures under the Clause 4.4.3 of conflict of interest that states “in the event that a member discloses that he/she has an interest, such member shall recuse himself/herself from that portion of the meeting dealing with the tender”.
This publication has learnt that Prof Ramahobo-Saleshando indeed declared her interest to the committee but it was decided that she continue with the session because she was the most experienced when compared to people who made up the decision panel. It is understood that this was done with the understanding that the regulations allow that one can declare and continue. However it is not clear if the UB procurement regulations have since been amended or it was just a misinterpretation of regulations at the time.
However,unconfirmed reports suggests that Boitekanelo Catering Services may challenge the reversal.
Meanwhile the view of the SRC is that, “the sitting in of the committee meetings of Professor Saleshando is no valid reason for UB to terminate the tender contract,” says the treasure general of the SRC Nollen Bome. Bome said that the UB management were using petty reasons and there were more sinister reasons as to why the P45 million job awarded to Boitekanelo was terminated.
“Professor Saleshando had recused herself from the committee meetings due to the fact that she did have an interest due to her stepson, Dr Saleshando who is the co-owner of the Boitekanelo Group of Companies, “continued Bome. He said they have seen the secretary’s minutes of the committee evaluation meetings and Professor Saleshando only attended the first meeting where she stated her interest.
As a result of the cancellation of the award of the tender to Boitekanelo, Moghul Catering Services has been given an extension to continue providing the UB students with meals for the next three months. Indications are that the three months could span into a year or more since the UB procurement process takes a long time. The controversial award to Boitekanelo took almost a year to culminate in a final decision; therefore Moghul may as well have been given a new tender if the status quo in procurement remains.
Moghul, which is owned by directors of Indian decent and a Motswana, has been offering its services to the university for the past 21 years. The UB SRC president revealed this week that many students at the university have complained about the quality of the food and the seemingly unhygienic environment inside Moghul restaurant.
The Student Representative Council (SRC) this past Wednesday held a press conference to address the issue of catering services – and they are clear on their stance they want Moghul out. They contend that they no longer want the services of Moghul Catering in the university but rather Boitekanelo Catering Services. But it is clear that the train has already left the station – Moghul stays.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.