The decision by the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism to buy a second hand aircraft valued at P42 million has touched off a controversial whirlwind with some officials questioning the integrity of the whole deal.
The Ministry has justified the purchase saying it needs the aircraft to fight poaching of wildlife which the ministry says has now reached alarming proportions.
The purchase of the aircraft was confirmed by Permanent Secretary Elias Magosi in an interview with this publication.
Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board agreed to the purchase after a lot of arm twisting by the ministry, The Telegraph can reveal.
While the Ministry has strongly argued that the aircraft will be used for anti-poaching efforts, some officials are skeptical, instead holding that the aircraft has been purchased for the minister, Tshekedi Khama, who is President Ian Khama’s younger brother.
They say the minister has often had to use the presidential jet ÔÇô making him the only cabinet minister so allowed since the jet is not even allowed the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
More importantly, some officials at the ministry are suspicious of the deal to purchase the aircraft because it did not go for open tender.
Investigations by The Telegraph have shown that the ministry approached PPADB late last year with the idea of the purchase after all negotiations with the owner had already been concluded.
It was only after PPADB started asking pointed questions including insisting that at the very least the ministry should go for “Open International” model to allow other parties in the international market to participate that an advert was floated.
In the end the ministry managed to get the aircraft that they had always wanted.
Government will pay P42 million for the 2004 aircraft. A new derivative of the same model while new would cost P95 million based on today’s prices, The Telegraph has learnt.