Office of the President has covertly relocated the Members of Parliament (MP’s) from the luxurious Avani Hotel resort and casino to private houses following the public uproar.
Government parliamentary Chief Whip Liakat Kablay confirmed to Weekend Post this week that “the government is renovating the flats and so MP’s have been housed in private houses” and that “it happened 2 months back.” The hush-hush move came after public outcry on the questionable rationale behind housing the legislators at a lavish hotel at the tax payers’ money without convincing justification. The government will have to pay BWP 6, 217, 751.25 for accommodation and meals for MP’s and their spouses from 31st October 2019 to 20th December 2019 which some thought was unreasonable.
To add salt to injury, there were reports that established procurement processes were not followed on awarding the tender to Avani Hotel. Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) recently clarified that while they do not consider requests for payment but rather considers requests for appointment of service providers: “in this particular case Avani Resort and Casino was appointed ‘prior’ to approval by the adjudicating authority (PPADB/Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC)).”
Therefore, the tender adjudicator explained that the request was for retroactive appointment of Avani Resort and Casino for accommodation services and the Board rejected the retroactive appointment. “The decision not to approve was premised on the submission not satisfying Section 44 (2) of the PPAD Act as read with Section 3 of the PPAD (Retroactive Approvals) Order of 2012,” PPADB official mouthpiece Charles Keikotlhae told this publication last week.
However parliament, which operates under the auspices of the office of the President distanced itself from the PPADB for taking such bold decision. “PPADB is within its powers to approve or disapprove such submission,” Parliamentary Spokesperson Caroline Bogale – Jaiyeoba told Weekend Post upon inquiries. Meanwhile PPADB has called for the investigations on the controversial issue of awarding the MP’s in question the accommodation tender to Avani at a substantial cost of 6 million and on the way flouting the PPAD Act.
“The Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration is expected to investigate the matter and determine the reasons that led to this non-compliance with the PPAD Act and take appropriate action against relevant officer(s) if reasons for their non-compliance are not justified,” PPADB official further stated. However it remains a mystery on what motivation was applied for a decision to lodge the MP’s at Avani as compared to other Hotels (which may be low-priced).
When Weekend Post inquired on whether the procurement processes were followed on the particular matter to source more than 3 quotations as is standard practice and if so what were the other potential accommodation service providers, parliament was tight lipped on the substantive subject. Parliamentary spokesperson Bogale – Jaiyeoba only stated that “procurement processes to lodge Members of Parliament at Avani were dully followed and the decision was informed by an approval granted by the Ministerial Tender Committee.” This is notwithstanding the reservations raised by PPADB that was not in compliance with the PPAD Act which regulates award of tenders.
She did not even state if three quotations were sought on the multimillion accommodation tender and from what service providers if any but instead remaining mum on the material subject in what is by all intents and purposes a matter of public interest as it affects the public purse/funds. Furthermore, Bogale – Jaiyeoba also snubbed a question from this publication when requested to break down the more than 6 million pula cost for each MP (and their spouses or family) per day at the posh Hotel to get a clear sense of the extend of splashing of funds at the accommodation facility.
She only said this that “MP’s were accommodated at Avani with their spouses; charged for accommodation, meals, laundry and other hotel related charges” while not revealing the expenditure break down for the MP’s. In addition this publication also sought clarity on the progress made in the renovations of the parliamentary flats and when it is likely to complete but parliament could not shed some light on the development. This means that MP’s will continue to lodge at the private accommodation houses estimated at P11 000 per month for an undisclosed period until official flats renovations are complete.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.