P4m Phakalane house, R3 million SA property remain unoccupied
MP Keorapetse exposes wastage at BITC
Ten years after Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) purchased a house in Rivonia, South Africa for R3 million, and later refurbished it for P400, 000 in 2016 the house remains vacant to date .
The revelation was made by Assistant Minister of Investment Trade and Industry (MITI) Moiseraele Goya in Parliament on Wednesday, saying the house which was to be used by BITC regional representative has been vacant since 2015. Wednesday 4th of July 2018 will go down as the day Goya will want to forget quickly as MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse grilled him on the wastage at BITC, among them acquisition of multimillion properties.
Armed with information, Keorapetse put Goya in a tight corner forcing the minister to admit to dodging some questions on lapses at BITC. “As the Honorable Member is observant Madam Speaker, I was trying to dodge that part of the question,” he admitted sheepishly as Keorapetse descended on him with questions.
Keorapetse’s questions exposed wastage at BITC running into millions of pula due to procurement of properties which are not occupied. Goya admitted that there is lack of prudent management of resources at BITC as in 2008 BITC bought a house in Rivonia, South Africa for R3 million to be used by their regional representative and was refurbished in 2016 at the cost of over R400, 000 and has been vacant since 2015. Goya said after the refurbishment a decision was taken to dispose it due to security reasons and that it was very old even after refurbishment but it is yet to find a buyer. Although the parastatal owns a property in South Africa, BITC decided to rent an apartment for their Regional Representative. “The BITC Regional Representative currently resides in a rented apartment pending the sale of the main property at a cost of ZAR335, 135.82 per annum,” he informed Parliament.
Although it has been refurbished the property is expected to be bought for a song as Goya said it has been put on sale at an amount that is almost the same as the amount that they procured with. BITC also procured a property for their Chief Executive Officer at Phakalane Estate in 2010 at a cost of over P4 million and refurbished it at a cost of P345 390.73 in 2016 and is yet to be occupied.
When the house was procured the CEO of BITC (then called BEDIA) was Jacob Nkate who was appointed after losing the 2009 General Elections. He would resign from the post a year later and was appointed Botswana’s ambassador to Japan.
Goya ducked the question on the length the house has been unoccupied choosing to say that BITC board wanted to lease the house but withdrew the decision as the appointment of the substantive CEO will happen soon. “We did not want to take the risk of probably renting out the house because the process of recruiting the CEO is ongoing,” he said in defense.
In 2009 the then Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) was allocated P20 million under development funds for the establishment of the office as well as purchase of a residential property in Mumbai, India. Goya informed Parliament that the purchase of the property was not successful due to the restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India. Goya who was under immense pressure from a barrage questions from Keorapetse gave contradicting answers regarding the whereabouts of the funds which were supposed to procure the residential property. Initially he said the funds are currently in the safe custody of BITC pending the conversion process.
Keorapetse made a follow up question to know exactly where the funds were kept at BITC and Goya somersaulted and gave a different answer. “The funds are kept within the books of Government at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development,” Goya mumbled a response.