Allegations of conflict of interest and vindictiveness were flying this week after it emrged that BOT 50 member and also businessman, Jacob Sesinyi had prior contact with one of the companies that participated in a tender floated by the organisation he presides over as a board member.
A case between local advertising company, Dialogue Group and Botswana 50 Celebrations (BOT 50) Secretariat, in which the former wanted to stop the evaluation process for the multimillion pula contract to procure Choreography services for the opening ceremony of Botswana’s 50th independence celebrations was settled this week, at the centre of it was Sesinyi who is accused of having possibly influenced the decision to disqualify Dialogue Group.
On Monday 31st March 2016, Dialogue Group lost their urgent application with costs. A technicality of not submitting a valid Tax Clearance Certificate cost them, according to the court. It has emerged in court papers that the BOT 50 project evaluation team disqualified Dialogue Group citing invalid tax clearance even though BOT 50 was in possession of a valid tax clearance certificate which was submitted by the Dialogue Group together with their expression of interest documents. It is this admitted error on their part which explains their unsuccessful bid.
In the court papers, the Dialogue Group expressed concern that one of the BOT 50 Board Members who was part of the evaluation team, Jacob Sesinyi may have influenced the team to disqualify the Dialogue Group from the tender because one Terry Behan had refused to partner with Sesinyi on the project and instead chose to work with the Dialogue Group.
As part of the evidence presented before court, the Dialogue group presented copies of e-mail correspondence between Sesinyi and Terry Behan. At the time, Behan was CEO of VWV’s EMEA division, producers together with The Dialogue Group of the Africa 2014 African Youth Games opening and closing ceremonies.
In his response Jacob Sesinyi said his company has not participated in, expressed interest nor tendered for any of the BOT 50 tenders or projects whether invited or otherwise.
“The issues in question makes reference to a business email correspondence dated 13th April, 2015, sent by myself on behalf of my Company to one Terry Behan who was by then an employee of VWV,” said Sesinyi.
As at the date of that e mail, i.e. 13th April, 2015, Jacob Sesinyi was not a member of the BOT 50 Organizing Committee, but a Director of a business entity that has been in existence for almost a decade looking for opportunities locally and abroad. Most importantly as at that date there was absolutely neither conceptualization nor procurement process that had commenced in relation to the Opening Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016.
Meanwhile, as was stated by the Coordinator of the 50th Anniversary committee in her letter to the Dialogue Group Attorneys dated 18th March 2016, “The Dialogue Group cannot, and should not, have expected the evaluating panel to pull out the valid certificate from their previous Expression of Interest submission and add it to the Tender submission on their behalf.”
“This would have been tantamount to tempering with your client submission and therefore iniquitous and prejudicial to other bidders, and we are convinced your client would have objected to if it were another bidder. The Dialogue Group, like all other bidders, simply had to comply with the requirement of the invitation to tender to submit a valid Tax Clearance Certificate on their own,” she further expressed.
Sesinyi said further what they failed to convey, is that the desired collaboration by his company and VWV, was in relation to possible general national projects. This was even before the 49th anniversary, and was totally unrelated to the ongoing 50th Anniversary celebrations Opening ceremony, with which he subsequently became involved.
Sesinyi said part of his response to Terry was, “Thanks for the note, well appreciated. May I know if your current partnership does allow you to collaborate with any other party in Botswana on a project by project basis?” This according to Sesinyi they have chosen to omit his response in the sequence of correspondence exchanged between Terry and him and presumably this is because the aforementioned communication does not support the supposedly ongoing rancour or resentment on his part at the failed collaboration with Terry Behan.
In a written statement to this publication, Sesinyi posits: “I can confirm that I own and operate a communication consultancy that amongst other things develops and delivers communication solutions and events for various clients both locally and internationally. This consultancy has been in operation for almost a decade.
A significant number of solutions to our clients are delivered either on our own or in partnership with various partners both locally and internationally. We are therefore always on the look out for potential partners that can help us deliver to our clients’ needs either on a project by project basis or on a more permanent basis. It is in this context that we approached VWV for potential partnership. I can advise that at the same time, we approached other potential partners in other parts of the world. As a result, when VWV reverted advising that they were not able to partner with us, we happily moved on. We harbor no grudge or resentment towards VWV whatsoever.
I hasten to point out that upon being approached for BOT50, I immediately declared my business to both the Chairman and the appointing authority. Both encouraged me to take up the appointment nonetheless, and in consideration of my knowledge, skills and experience that BOT50 and the country requires.
I would like to state for the record, that neither myself nor my company have expressed any interest or tendered for any of the BOT50 jobs or tenders.”
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.
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.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.