Barolong tribal leaders deny squandering P400, 000

Portia Nkani - BG Reporter
Monday, 22 August 2016
Barolong tribal leaders deny squandering P400, 000

It has been four years since Debswana Diamond company financed a project to build a shelter for Barolong Tribal Administration in Goodhope but to date no structure is in place, Botswana Guardian can reveal.

The Barolong Tribal Administration which had approached the diamond company in 2012 seeking funding to upgrade the existing infrastructure in Goodhope Main Kgotla, later went back to Debswana for more but was rejected. Some close sources allege that authorities have misappropriated the money hence the failure of the project to take off.  In an inquiry by this publication on the matter, Debswana’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Matshidiso Kamona confirmed that indeed in 2012, Debswana received a proposal from Barolong Tribal Administration to upgrade the existing infrastructure at the Main Kgotla. Debswana disclosed that the cost of the proposal was P400 000 which was approved and the funds remitted to the Tribal Administration.

Two years later, in February 2014, Debswana received yet another letter from the Barolong tribal administration office indicating a delay in the project due to their inability to fundraise for the project from Barolong across Botswana as they had hoped. Kamona’s response to the inquiry explains that, “The letter was requesting for an additional P1 million, which request Debswana declined due to unavailability of resources. The feedback we are getting from the beneficiary is that the project has not started yet because of insufficient funds. However, they have embarked on efforts to escalate fundraising efforts in cities and towns.”

Debswana has been making follow-ups on the project and has been assured that the Barolong Tribal Administration is still committed to the project and is still hoping to raise funds for it. “We have also been assured that our funds are secure,” she said, adding that the diamond company is in constant engagement with the project steering committee from the beneficiary’s side to encourage them to kick-start the project with the available funds.

Botswana Guardian established that, the project was to have started in 2013 subject to contributions from Barolong across Botswana and financial contributions from other potential funders. Some of the members of the project steering committee are Kgosi Motshegare (Ex-officio member), Mr Dithuso Phetlhu, Ms Bosilong (Good Hope Branch Chairman), Dr Patrick Molutsi (Gaborone Branch Chairman), Dr Mothusi, Mr Motang, Dr Ntseane, Ms Beauty Selabe and Mr Duncan Marumolwa.

Botswana Guardian visited Goodhope to engage Kgosi Botiki Motshegare on the matter. Kgosi Motshegare rubbished claims that the money has been misappropriated, “Ga re a ja madi….the money is still in the bank account and is still far from reaching what we want. I will not disclose the name of the bank. It has not been spent like what people allege.” He said the reason they went back to Debswana was to ask for more money. He conceded that they had underestimated the total cost of the project when they embarked on it. “However, we have since decided that we will refurbish the existing structure with the budget (P400 000.00) that we currently have. Our current structure has a capacity of 200 and we are looking to extend to at least 300-400 people,” Kgosi Motshegare said.

He said they had benchmarked from other main kgotlas such as the Batlokwa Tribal Admin and the Ngwaketse Tribal Admin, which motivated them to work on similar structures. At the time of this interview in July, Kgosi Motshegare said that they were shopping for quotations and remained hopeful that the project would be completed before end of the year 2016.

Botswana Guardian has learnt that, the structure for the Ngwaketse Tribal Administration in Kanye cost around P1.4million covering roofing, public address system, refurbishment of heritage house, conference room and new ablution block. The project is also a beneficiary of Debswana. Meanwhile, when asked on other projects funded by the company that could have proved unsuccessful at the end, Kamona said, “we are not in a position to share information on partnerships we have with our beneficiaries whose projects are still pending.” She however indicated that they continuously work with their beneficiaries to ensure that projects funded by Debswana are concluded and are of benefit to the communities.

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