Friday, January 22, 2021

BDC fires Executive

Rosemary Mogorosi, who was the Industrial Manager with the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), was sacked on Monday.

Her sacking kickstarts a long anticipated season of victimization.

This follows the removal of three non executive directors by the Minister of Finance just as they were about to institute disciplinary hearings against senior executives, including the Managing Director, Maria Nthebolan.

Morale among BDC employees is said to be at its lowest, with many employees gripped by fear, uncertainty and anxiety.

Although no reasons have yet been advanced for Mogorosi’s sacking, The Telegraph can confirm that she is a victim of her unwavering belief in proper corporate governance.

On another development, the new BDC Board could not meet on Friday to approve additional funds for the Palapye projects as those who were present could not form a quorum.

It is suspected some directors could have possibly stayed away from the meeting in protest against the way their former colleagues were unceremoniously sacked.

As Industrial Manager, Mogorosi was the key person involved in many of the projects that have attracted attention, including Lobatse Tile, Can Botswana and the Glass Manufacturing.

She is said to have complained that a lot of things were not done properly at BDC.

During her time, she tried to correct the many flaws that she saw in how some of the BDC projects were financed.

Persistently, she warmed her superiors that if they were not careful the corporation stood to lose out.

And for that she was a marked woman.

When disciplinary hearings were dropped as a result of sacking the board, junior managers like her became easy picking for seniors who suspected her and others of leaking information to the media.

Her name first crossed the radar after a report by consulting engineers warned BDC of systemic abuse at the Glass Manufacturing Plant in Palapye.

It was Mogorosi who had engaged a firm of engineers to do some due diligence of the project.
The engineers, G4, came up with an audit report which, among other things, pointed out that BDC had overpaid the contractor by P100 million.

Alarm was also raised about an adjacent Oxygen Making Plant that had been paid by BDC money even though it was clearly not a BDC project.

Investigations by this newspaper were to prove that certain BDC executives were behind the Oxygen Plant.

How BDC money was used to finance what is effectively a privately-owned project not related to the corporation remains a mystery that baffled even the consulting engineers doing the audit.

“Please note further that the schedule of paid invoices includes an invoice for Oxygen Making Machine… Oxygen making is not part of the turnkey contract and is being built outside the site as we witnessed at the site meeting. This invoice should therefore not have been paid by BDC,” said the Managing Director of G4 Consulting Engineers, Botsile Gubago, in a confidential report to Ms Mogorosi.

“Our assessment shows the amount due and payable to the contractor as P254, 588,358 compared to P352, 000,000 as per your email. We are therefore of the opinion that, at this point in time, the contractor has been overpaid by an amount in excess of P100, 000,000,” said the consulting Engineers.

At the time, the auditing engineers also discovered that although BDC had paid over 90 percent towards the equipment shipping, very few equipment items had been delivered to the glass manufacturing site.

“Please also note that with respect to equipment, that over 90 percent of the amount payable on shipping, which should be 25 percent of the contract amount, has already been paid, although from the equipment on the invoice schedule, other major equipment items are still to be shipped.”

The audit engineers ended their correspondence to Ms Mogorosi by emphasizing that the Chinese contractor should be compelled to submit a full and detailed listing of equipment so far delivered to the site so that the list could be assessed against the invoices so far paid by BDC.

“There could be additional items for which payment has been due to the contractor, relevant expenses and other costs as per article 10. We, however, believe that these items would be relatively minor and our opinion is therefore that the contractor has been overpaid by an amount in excess of P100, 000, 000,” says Gubago.

In a separate letter to Solomon Sekwakwa, Permanent Secretary (Ministry Finance), who was also Chairman of Botswana Development Corporation before his recent demotion, the consulting engineers expressed a discomfort that BDC had been overcharged in some aspects of the contract and also that the contractor had consistently not complied with the terms and conditions of the agreement.

“We have also highlighted that the site substation is part of the original EPC Contractor and that the diesel standby generator could be obtained for nearly half the price quoted by the contractor.”

Further highlighting the discomfort at the high amount of money paid by BDC and suspicions that the contractor did not have a performance bond in place, the consulting engineers said: “We must, however, point out that no inspection certificates are included with the copies of documentation for the paid invoices passed to us. We have, however, received copies of some test certificates separately although these do not seem to be completely matched to the equipment on paid invoices. We assume the performance bond is in place.”

The glass manufacturing plant in Palapye started to grip the public imagination after the media reported that even though BDC had paid close to 90 percent of the total price tag, very little work had actually happened at the site.

“The amount payable for construction works on site would therefore be 50 percent – which we work out as 40 percent down payment plus a further 10 percent,” reported the consulting engineers.

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