New evidence has emerged about the multi million Pula design of Phuthadikobo palace awarded by Bakgatla tribal leader, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela and Moruleng Tribal authorities to an architect company belonging to Kgafela’s sister in law Gorata Kgafela.
Documents seen and studied by Botswana Guardian indicate that GBK Architects were awarded P1. 3 million deal to design Phuthadikobo Royal Palace in 2011 by Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Tribal Administration in Moruleng, South Africa.
The dream palace could have cost P28 million. GBK, which is an acronym of Gorata Bakgatle Kgafela according to sources both in Botswana and South Africa, engaged a South African company Lemaseya Khama Design after being favoured in the award of the deal without tendering.
Gorata Kgafela is married to Kgafela’s younger brother Bakgatle. Sources have revealed that Kgafela who presides over Bakgatla in Botswana and South Africa may have influenced the decision to award the tender to his sister-in-law’s company.
Further, month long investigations by Botswana Guardian have revealed that the tender may have been issued without following proper tender processes by Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela in Moruleng something that may amount to corrupt practices and nepotism. The source of revenue for the construction of the P28million royal palace could have been from Moruleng.
This week Gorata Kgafela could not be drawn into discussing the matter despite initially promising to talk to this newspaper about the matter. “We don’t have any information that shows that the tender processes were followed,” revealed a source in Moruleng.
According to the drawings seen by Botswana Guardian Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Tribal Authority is listed as first client, while Kgosi Kgafela and Mohumagadi are listed as second clients.
According to this newspaper’s investigations, GBK Architects received P1, 240, 359.80 for designing the structure from Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Tribal Administration on the 16th July 2012 and a further P59, 661.31 as balance of exchange on the 19th July 2012.
This newspaper can reveal that GBK were also going to be the project managers. It is not clear from the documents whether more money was to be paid to the company once the structure is complete, since the company also specialises in interior design.
Following ongoing wrangling between Kgafela and his royal uncles in Moruleng over the control of the tribe, construction of the palace was put on hold. Sources say that BBKTA refused to fund the construction saying that it was too expensive.
Kgosi John Nyalala Pilane who had previously found nothing wrong with the construction of the structure allegedly bowed down to pressure from the members of the royal family. Had things gone according to plan the construction of the Royal palace would have started in 2012.
An architect revealed to Botswana Guardian that GBK Architect was awarded 12 percent of the P28 million. “This means that they were going to work with contractors, and engineers until the project ends,” said an architect reluctant to reveal identity.
Normally in Botswana architects’ charges are modest and range between 4 – 7 percent of the entire project capital. He said normally architects would be paid around 40 percent of the money after council authorities have approved the plan. The identified contractors according to the documents were local construction company Pula Consultants.
This week Pula Consultants Managing Director Carthage Mathage refused to talk to Botswana Guardian about ‘his client’ adding that all inquiries should be channeled to the principal contractor, GBK Architects, as they were only subcontracted to do the job.
Though she had previously agreed to discuss the deal Gorata Kgafela later changed her mind and accused Botswana Guardian of “tarnishing” the name of Kgosi Kgafela. “I won’t be part of any story that seeks to tarnish Kgosi Kgafela. I don’t care what you write,” she said angrily.