Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC) Thapelo Olopeng, has promised that the Miss Botswana pageant 2017 service providers will be paid.
However, it appears that this is reference to just two out of 11 unpaid service providers. Those expected to be paid were engaged directly by his ministry, while the Botswana Council of Women (BCW) engaged the others. The two service providers expected to be paid are designers Kaone Moremong of House of Kay and of Botocy fashion label.
The two were engaged to make the whole wardrobe for the Miss Botswana pageant. In an interview, Moremong expressed confidence that their payment would finally come through. “The minister has promised to settle the payment and we will wait and see because government payment takes 20-40 days to clear,” she said.
Moremong however distanced herself from BCW, saying that she was directly engaged by MYSC. She said they had developed a working relationship with MYSC and communicated often with director of youth at the ministry, Lawrence Ookeditse, but things changed when payment was due last year.
“We were taken from pillar to post. We made calls, wrote letters and went to the office,” she said. Moremong noted that they were not aware of Ookeditse’s resignation, and had only heard about it from the media.
“We went to the MYSC offices on January 3 and were informed that Ookeditse would be in office on January 8. We knew nothing about his resignation. All we are concerned with is getting our dues.” Ookeditse is believed to be preparing to join politics.
In his statement, Minister Olopeng noted that he had consulted with his Permanent Secretary and that those with letters authorising them to do work for Miss Botswana would have their invoices settled. He also said that the issue of the Ministry authorising them would be dealt with internally.
He said those who were engaged by BCW should deal with the body and not MYSC. He also noted that they would meet with BCW to decide the future of their relationship.
A service provider that spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said it was unfair that they were excluded and told to deal with BCW when the organisation was working with MYSC. “When we were initially engaged our understanding was that BCW would get their funding from MYSC.
“When payment was due, we were told that MYSC had not released funds. We kept following BCW team around until we eventually decided to go to MYSC. They (MYSC) said that they had given BCW the funds to pay us. However, when we went to them, they insisted that they had not received the monies,” the source explained.
The source said that they had engaged Kago Ramokate, who asked them to submit their letters of engagement and invoices. “This year we were told that he was on leave and would only return to office mid January, so we are still waiting.” The source said that on Tuesday they were called by a certain Mr Mongwaketse, who promised that the ministry would refer to letters submitted to BCW and MYSC and follow up on the matter.
“But he did not mention anything about payment.” The source expressed disgruntlement that there was mismanagement and disorganisation.
“When MYSC partnered with BCW, they said they wanted to clean up the image of the pageant. We expected MYSC to also deal with us since both parties were working together. It is unfair that we are excluded from the settlement although we also worked on the pageant.”
A meeting was expected to be held by BCW last night. Meanwhile, attempts to speak to BCW hit a snag. Efforts to speak to Ookeditse also failed as his phone rang unanswered.