Two years later, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture (MYSC) continues to be dogged by a litany of financial indiscretions arising from its conduct of the Bots50 Celebrations.The improprieties are captured in the Auditor General’s report. Among some of the alarrming findings is the awarding of a tender worth P2, 753 – 440 to a Chinese company, Jiansu Jianhu Pytote for the provision of fireworks at 15 different sites on Independence Day, 2016.
The AG’s report shows that the Secretaraiat (Bots 50) had advanced P2, 000, 000 to Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) on 26th April 2016 to facilitate the provision of fireworks for the big day. A compnay was awarded the tender at a cost of P 1, 907, 043 and according to the AG’s report, was paid 50 percent mobilisation fee of P953, 521.
Additional funds of P953, 521 were further advanced to the BNSC thus bringing the total funds towards provision of fireworks to P2, 953, 521. According to the AG’s altogether, the contractor was paid P1, 907, 043 leaving a balance of P1, 046, 478 of the money advanced which BNSC should account for to the Secretariat.
But there’s a catch here, since the Bots50 Secretariat has since disbanded, it begs the question who will the BNSC account to? The AG’s report further notes that the contract agreement for the provision of the fireworks was signed by Bots50 Coordinator, Charity Kgotlafela in March 2016 while the supplier signed in April 2016 (a month later).
But odd enough, the Ministerial Tender Committee awarded the tender on “direct appointment” in June 2016, which was after the signing of the contract and making the 50 percent advance payment of P953, 521.In defense of his Minisrty, Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate told the Auditors that the direct appointment of the Chinese manufacturer was based on “competitive price and high quality product”.
But he owned up that the contract agreement signed prior to June 2016, which was the date of the award by the MTC, was “therefore improper and without force.”He said this is because performance contracts are entered into and signed following award of the tender. He explained that the total amount spent for fireworks was P2, 003, 533. 40 with P217, 118, 61 paid to Botswana Unified Revenue Services for withholding tax and P1, 786, 414.79 paid to Jiansu Jianhu Pyrote.
The difference of P949, 987, 6 was “allocated to other expenses”.However, it seems this matter is not yet dead and buried, as the PS is expected to be grilled by the Parliament’s Accounts Committee next week to account for these lapses.
Sources say it was highly irregular for the Coordinator to travel to China with the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Peter Mongwaketsi, who incidentally, also sits on the Bots50 Board, and unilaterally award the tender to the Chinese company outside the purview of the MTC, whilst procurement was ongoing in Botswana with two selected companies.
Furthermore, the award was irregular because it was not vetted by the Attorney General Chambers, which is normanl government procurement policy. Yet another tender that the PS will be asked to defend before the PAC is the award of a tender worth P12, 753, 440 to Red Pepper for production of the opening ceremony and another tender of P2, 580, 408 for the cooordination and directing of events on the Eve of Independence Day 2016 making a total of P15, 333, 848 that was paid to the company.
The Auditor General observed that this amount was however “negotiated down”to P14, 495, 000 and that an advance of P7, 247 500 or 50 percent was paid. The AG’s noted that since an amount of P15, 833, 644 had already been advanced to BNSC to cater for the services, this left balance of P1, 338, 644 to be accounted for to the Secretariat.
However, the AG observed that, “I have not been able to obtainn information as to how the funds were accounted for”. However, in his response to the Auditors, the PS stated that Thapelo Letsholo’s company, Red Pepper, was awarded a total P15, 333, 848 - 00 and that contrary to the AG’s obsevation, the tender was “not negotiated down”to P14, 495, 000 - 00, but rather it was noted that the deposit of P7, 247, 500 – 00 “assumed to be 50 percent was actual 47 percent of the contract sum” and the “shortfall” was fully paid to Red Pepper”.
When he appears before the PAC, Ramokate will have to flex his muscles and convince the Committee members who authorised the payment of P15, 8million whilst the contract stipulated P14, 495 million. He will be called upon to account for the P1, 3million shortfall.
Other complaints, although not captured in the AG’s report, are beginning to emerge imputing favouritism, which has led to mass resignations at the ministry.
It is said that a certan lady (names withheld but known to this paper) unduly benefits from many trips with the Ministry’s headhonchos at the expense of proper candidates. In fact, an insider whispered that the lady is already being eyed for promotion! Other disgruntled employees have been forced to leave because their authority is undermined.
For instance, one lady was investigated by an officer and the matter escalated to Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) which recommended that she be suspended but the authorities that be, allegedly refused.