Parastatals in the grip of graft

Kemoreilwe Jimson-BG reporter
Monday, 05 December 2016
Parastatals in the grip of graft

Abuse of power, corruption, maladministration, poor governance and abuse of money is very common in some of the state enterprises that are currently appearing before Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises.

Ever since last month Chief Executive Officers of these enterprises has been having a hard time fielding questions from the no-nonsense, Tati East Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, Moyo Guma. This week management at Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) were sent back to properly prepare their books and come with answers to clear poor governance and abuse of money by some big bosses in the organisation. The hot issue was the abuse of credit card and travel expenses by some managers.

In the Internal audit report submitted before committee members it was revealed that even though employees are given perdiem when travelling on official trips for accommodation and meals they still use credit cards to cater for their friends. This led the furious Moyo to ask Director of Risk and Compliance, Boingotlo Ramotadima why they are using credit cards while MPs do not have them yet they travel more than them in and outside the country. “Why don’t you use perdiem? Our system allows us to do that because we see credit cards are being used to drink beers with friends,” asked Moyo.

Ramotadima said use of credit card was introduced in 2013 because they travel a lot outside the country. It was revealed that another cardholder, Binn Matengu while in South Africa had his card used by two different people of the Centre on the same trip hosting the same group of people which resulted in an expenditure of P1700. Another one Reitumetse Aphiri spent P7900 on alcoholic beverages while in an official trip in Berlin, Germany. “The limit for BITC credit cards is P20 000. However, there has been a growing tendency by some cardholders requesting that their credit limits be increased so that they can pay for their own accommodation instead of going through the normal procurement processes.

The risk here is that employees may now choose to pay most expensive hotels and the balances are often used to pay for expensive transport, meals and drinks,” states the report. It further reads, “In our opinion there are red flags which indicate that credit cards may be abused in some instances. There has been a general improvement on the retirement of imprests by BITC employees.” The committee also heard that while outside the country some managers hire expensive cars. BITC conditions of service allow employees of the centre to hire cars of Class B and C range while on official trips.

One example given was that Aphiri hired Limousine service and paid 600 Euros for five trips. All Executive Directors have been issued with company credit cards to be used for business related expenditures.“When employees go on official trips including delegates from other departments they are given perdiem to cater for meals and other incidental expenses. Head of delegations and Executive Directors are given 20 percentages extra in addition to the credit cards to cater for entertainment costs. An observation was made that the 20 percentage is never used for entertaining delegates but rather Credit cards are always used to host delegates even when delegates are less than 5 (five),” reads the report.

It further reads, “There is a risk that the company credit card may be used by non-employees of BITC. The credit card may be abused and not used for official purposes. Procedures for travel may not be followed properly and Imprest may not be retired within the stipulated timeframe. Entertainment sessions are often held by employees of the Centre and disguised as official meetings. The presumed meetings are often scheduled for Friday evenings and the consumption of alcohol is usually very high.”

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