SELEBI PHIKWE ÔÇô Bamangwato Concession Limited (BCL) Managing Director, Dan Mahupela last week defended the company’s decision to award a multi-million Pula contract for its scheduled smelter shutdown to a South Africa company, Kentz SA.
Addressing the media last week, Mahupela said the tender for management and execution of BCL’s shut down was awarded to Kentz SA through competitive bidding and pursuant to the mining company’s internal tender review committee protocols. Mahupela’s explanation came in the wake of complaints by some citizen companies who questioned why they were overlooked in favor of a foreign company. Mystery surrounds how Kentz SA, a leading South African mechanical and electrical engineering firm, won a multi-million Pula contract at the BCL mine in Selebi Phikwe. The firm is already on site, seemingly as part of preparations for the mine’s scheduled smelter shut down slated for early next month. The shut down entails large scale maintenance and renewal of production lines.
When the tender was awarded, citizen owned mechanical and electrical firms cried foul as they said Kentz SA should not be involved in BCL. At the time, an association of citizen owned mechanical and electrical firms wrote a letter to BCL management seeking clarification on Kentz SA’s involvement on a contract that could easily be carried out by local firms. In the letter, the association sought to revise the decision taken by BCL. However, on Thursday Mahupela refused to be drawn into discussing the outcome of the exchange between BCL and the citizen contractors.
“It would be improper for BCL to share the outcome of its talks with third parties. However, I must state that BCL does not award tenders to groups or associations,” he said.
Mahupela also said the tender for the management and execution of BCL’s shutdown has been duly awarded to a tier 1 company, Kentz Engineers & Constructors, through a competitive bidding process and pursuant to the mine’s internal tender review committee protocols.
Citizen contractors cry foul
However, a group of citizen mechanical and electrical contractors has shot down Mahupela’s explanation, saying Kentz SA should not have been awarded the lucrative contract as it has no local representation and will not be paying taxes in Botswana.
“We should not be exporting jobs that belong to Batswana to South Africa at a time when the economy needs to be jump started,” they said.
Kentz SA has had a tempestuous relationship with Botswana, as its subsidiary was liquidated in Botswana a little less than a decade ago; leaving many local businesses that it owed millions in the lurch. It has emerged that companies that were owed by the subsidiary could not recover their money from Kentz SA as they were told that the two were different entities, even though it was clear that their shareholding and directorship was overlapping. It was suspected that the mother company in South Africa was deliberately liquidating its Botswana holding to avoid honoring its obligations to Botswana suppliers and creditors.