BOT50 skeletons tumble out

SHARE   |   Monday, 05 December 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
BOT50 skeletons tumble out

Preparations for the country’s 50th celebrations were controversy-ridden, with some suspecting maladministration. Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises this week, officials from Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Falcon Sedimo, BOT50 coordinator Charity Kgotlafela and Deputy Permanent Secretary Peter Mongwaketse all admitted that some transactions were done properly. The main issue during the hearing chaired by the MP for Tati West Samson Moyo Guma was the P12 million tender awarded to Red Pepper PR & Communication Consultancy for the opening ceremony of the BOT50 celebrations. It emerged during the interrogation of the BNSC Chief Executive Officer that his organisation was used for dispensing the money to companies which were awarded tenders. According to the evidence presented before the committee, BOT50 Committee instructed the BNSC CEO to transfer P7.2 million to Red Pepper PR and Communication Consultancy in March, a month before the tender was awarded.

This, according to Guma, was against government tender policy which states that government does not pay advance fee for services and suppliers. Realising that he is about to put himself in a tight corner, Sedimo exonerated himself by saying that they were only instructed to disburse the funds and did just that. He said that there was no written document on how they must disburse the money. The instruction was through a word of mouth. The committee also evaluated and awarded tenders. Kgotlafela stated that they got the authority from the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the MYSC Mongwaketse, who is also the chairperson of the Ministerial Tender Committee. In April this year the Dialogue Group filed an urgent court application seeking the court to stop BOT50 committee from continuing the evaluation process. In their court papers, the Dialogue Group expressed concern that one of the BOT 50 board members who was part of the evaluation team may have influenced the team to disqualify the Dialogue Group from the tender because one Terry Behan had refused to partner with him on the project and instead chose to work with the Dialogue Group.

The tender is fraudulent – Guma
The BOT50 tender, it emerged was, awarded wrongly awarded as the BOT50 Tender Committee didn’t have the authority to award a multimillion tender - only the Ministerial Tender Committee could do that by making a recommendation to PPADB. On the 7th of March 2016 Kgotlafela is said to have written to the BNSC to award tender to Red Pepper and pay them an amount of P7.2 million. Though the BOT50 committee has insisted that Red Pepper PR & Communication Consultancy was the lowest bid, it emerged that Blue Moon Promotion was the lowest at P10 million.

You’re the problem here – Guma tells off DPS
Mongwaketse admitted during interrogation that paying Red Pepper P7.2 million, which was even beyond the 50% level, was fraudulent. He agreed with Guma that funds cannot be disbursed before Botswana Public Procurement & Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Form 3 has been made. Though the nation has been informed that P100 million was budgeted for the BOT50 celebration, it emerged that the account had over P130 million. Guma told Mongwaketse that he was the main problem at MYSC and responsible for the rot at BOT50 committee.

Mthimukulu gets P1.1m
Another transaction that raised eyebrows was the P1.1 million and P60 000 consultation fee which was paid to D.M. Mthimkhulu Attorneys by BNSC on behalf of Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. According to Sedimo, the money was deposited into their account to pay the law firm for facilitating some business transaction on behalf of BOT50 Committee. “Why didn’t they pay the clients directly rather using the law firm and spending so much money?” asked Guma, shaking his head in disbelief. The law firm is owned by Meshack Mthimkulu, a former Botswana National Front (BNF) firebrand who defected to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in December last year. In 2014, he stood as independent parliamentary candidate for Gaborone South.