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Chinese sue Gov’t over dummy tender


A Chinese company is suing the Government of Botswana over a forty million Pula Local Government and Rural Development citizens only tender after a local contractor, N AND M Services, secretly sold them the deal, fully knowing that the Chinese did not qualify to execute the job.


The disputed multimillion Pula tender was for the procurement and construction of water treatment plants and evaporation ponds at New Xade and Radisele.


The Chinese company said it entered into an agreement of Cession in terms of which the citizen company ceded all its rights under tender No 8/1/3/12II. The tender was awarded by the Department of Local Services.


Giant Building Construction say they fulfilled all their contractual agreements, in particular the two million Pula payment to the Citizen Contractor who also acknowledged receipt of the money as shown in court documents, as well as a performance bond of Two Million and Forty Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Three Pula Forty four thebe to the Department of Local Government.


The Chinese company argue that they further mobilized their workforce and machinery and started work at the two sites. “The applicant did all the above in the bona fide and reasonable belief that the agreement was valid and enforceable,” argues the Chinese company Lawyer, Yame Tshepo Kebabonye in the court papers.


The court papers show that the Citizen Contractors failed to cede their rights in the said tender to the Chinese due to the fact that the said tender was reserved for citizens only and therefore could not be ceded to non citizen companies, a fact well known by the citizen Contractors and a fact they hid from the Chinese.


The Chinese applied for payment of their Two Million Pula with a ten percent interest on the amount from date of breach to date of full payment as well as legal costs at attorney and own client scale. They further said they performed the work as per the contract and want an amount of P2 119 278.71 for that.

The agreement

The material terms of the said agreement were that the Citizen Company, N AND M absolutely cedes every right to the Chinese, including the benefits. It was therefore agreed that the Chinese shall pay the Citizen Contractor the total sum of Three Million Pula which includes VAT and which amount represented the consideration to be paid to the Citizen Company for the said cession of rights and interest.


It was also agreed that the said amount of P3,000.000.00 shall be paid as follows: ‘firstly  Two Million Pula upon signing of the agreement between the parties and the remaining balance of One Million Pula shall be paid after three months from the project commencement date by way of six successive payments of P166,666,66 from six successive payment certificate,’ reads the court papers.


The agreement was also that immediately after signing of the agreement, the Citizen Contractor shall apply for three percent withholding TAX exemption from Botswana Unified Revenue Services and deliver it to the Chinese.


It was also agreed the Chinese shall provide a security worth Two Million and Forty Four Thousand seven Hundred and Three Pula Forty Four thebe to the department of Local government as a client. This performance bond was a pre-requisite for the award or finalizing of the tender.


Moreover the two had agreed that the collateral security provided by the Chinese Contractors for the said performance bond shall be restored back to the Chinese at the end of the contract.


It was further agreed that all payments for work done under the contract shall be paid directly to the Chinese account and that the Director or the Chinese Contractor, Wang Daotian must be the sole signatory of the account and shall so remain for the entire duration of the contract.


Another agreement was that the Citizen Contractor shall deliver to the Chinese the complete original agreement of the contractor in order that the applicant may verify the specifications thereto.


It was further agreed that the Citizen Contractor shall sign all documents and render assistance as may be reasonably required for the fulfilment of the parties’ obligations under the contract.


The Citizen Contractor however denied ever making such an agreement with the Chinese contractor. In defence, the Citizen Contractors argued that the Chinese company does not even exist. “I am advised that proceedings instituted by a non-exist entity have no effect in law and are liable to be set aside as a nullity,” said the Citizen Contractor Director, Chilisa Ndlovu.


He continued that nothing came out of the negotiations with the Chinese contractors, as they wanted seventy percent of the works.


“We were not amenable to such a move for it would mean that the Chinese contractor would be in total control of the project if he was given such a percentage of the works,” he said further arguing that they never entered into an agreement with the Chinese contractors.


Chilisa further accused the Chinese Contractors of faking their signatures in the contract agreement cited by the Chinese. “The resolution was for the negotiations of sub-contracting and nothing more. I do not understand the Chinese Contractor saying subcontracting and cession of agreement are identical concepts,” they said further denying that the Chinese Contractor ever paid them the said Two Million Pula.


Chilisa called on the Chinese to provide proof of any invested amount into the project, as according to him they never paid a single thebe onto the said project.
 

Judgement

In March last year, the Lobatse high court ruled in favour of the Chinese after they took the Citizen contractor to Court over the matter. A default judgement was made when N AND M Services failed to appear to defend their actions.


Efforts to attach the Citizen Contractor’s goods as per a follow up judgement were also futile as the there were no goods to satisfy the judgement.


N AND M Services is represented by Kanjabanga and Associates whereas the Chinese contractor, Giant Building Construction is represented by Sadique Kebonang Attorneys. The law firms representing the two warring parties did not want to comment on the matter.


Recently the Chinese’s lawyers successfully sought a garnishee order against the government to the debts. A garnishee order is a legal proceeding in which a plaintiff seeks the satisfaction of a debt by obtaining a judgment that directs a third party in possession of the property of the defendant to make it available to satisfy the judgment. The order was granted by Justice Nthomiwa Nthomiwa on the first week of August.


A letter passed to this publication from the Attorney General Chambers suggest that on the 5th of August 2015, the Chinese contractor’s lawyers wrote a letter to the Attorney General requesting the payments.


“We have previously informed you what is owed to our client. We in this regard attach the court in favour of our client and against N AND M Services. Kindly pay all money due to N AND M services from yourself, satisfying the attached judgement to the bank account provided below, the money to be paid includes the retention fee held by yourself on behalf of N AND M Services. We trust you will swiftly comply with the court order,” the letter stated.

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Seretse, Kgosi may walk free

30th October 2020
BAKANG SERETSE

The P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga that has been before court since 2017 seems to be losing its momentum with a high possibility of it being thrown out as defence lawyers unmask incompetency on the part of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Gaborone High Court this week ruled that the decision by the State to prosecute Justice Zein Kebonang and his twin brother, Sadique Kebonang has been reviewed and set aside. The two brothers have now been cleared of the charges that where laid against them three years ago.

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Understanding the US Electoral College and key election issues 

28th October 2020
Mark J Rozell

The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.

Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.

US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.

Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of  the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University  in  Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.

“The founders of our Republic de-centralised  authority  significantly  in  creating  our  constitutional  system,  which  means that  they  gave  an  enormous  amount  of  independent  power  and  authority  to  State  and  local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.

Unlike  parliamentary  democracies, like Botswana the  United  States  does  not  have  all  of  the  national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where  the  entire  federal  government  is  elected  all  in  one  election  cycle  giving  a  “mandate”  to  a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.

The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators  serve  for  six  years  and  one  third  of  the  Senate is elected every  two  years.

For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice

President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.

An  important  facet  of  US electoral  system  to  understand  given  the  federalism  nature  of  the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.

“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State  is  assigned  a  number  of  electors  to  our  Electoral  College  and  the  candidate  who  wins  the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.

“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”

Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to  win  a  State  by  one  vote  to  win  a  100 percent of  its  electors,  the  margin  does  not  matter.

“Donald  Trump  won  many  more  States  by  smaller  margins,  hence  he  got  an  Electoral  College majority.”

Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.

“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going  to  break  with  the  popular  vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.

“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”

There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.

If however there are more candidates, and  this  happens  extremely  rarely,  and  a  third  candidate  got  some electors  to  the  Electoral  College  denying  the  two  major  party  candidates,  either  one  getting  a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.

“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.

BLUE STATES vs RED STATES

Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.

Many  states  have  populations  that  are  so  heavily  concentrated  in  the  Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.

California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.

However there are swing  states, where  there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.

“So  it  ends  up  making  a  national  contest  for  the  presidency  actually  look  like  several  state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.

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Masisi to make things right with Dangote

26th October 2020

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.

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