The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has launched an investigation into the award of tenders to companies engaged in buying cattle for the Botswana Meat Commission.
The investigation follows a motion by the Central District Council requesting the Minister of Agriculture to set an inquiry investigating the criteria used to award tenders to companies buying cattle for the BMC. The councilors complained that the BMC system was tailored to favour a select few.
The BMC cattle procurement system has become the lightning rod of controversy. Last year, Matlho Attorneys launched an unsuccessful High Court bid to stop the award of tenders claiming that there are “some individuals within the establishment who have turned BMC, a public entity, into a club house of some individuals/friends/associates, especially when it comes to procurement i.e. commission cattle buying, transportation of BMC purchased cattle, feedloting on behalf of BMC.”
The law firm, acting on behalf of Good Quality Breeders (Pty) Ltd, wrote to the BMC board chairman complaining that “there is a lot of corruption, under hand activities, foul play and nepotism to say the least. These certain individuals seem to be so enslaved in their minds to the extent that they lack a sense of equity and fairness”.
In their letter, the law firm further stated that, “it is not unreasonable for one to feel that buying cattle for BMC in prime areas like Gantsi and Kgalagadi is reserved for certain individuals and that tendering is just a formality”.
The BMC board chairperson, Dr David Falepau, in his response to the latter complaining of corruption stated: “I advise that the investigation concluded that BMC tender process and procedure was duly followed. The investigators concluded that absolutely no impropriety occurred in the way both tenders were handled. In fact, they commended the legitimacy with which the tender was evaluated and awarded. My conclusion is that neither BMC, nor its officers, misconducted themselves in anyway regarding the tenders.
“Please note the advice provided also points out the defamatory nature of the allegations made in your letter. I uphold that advice and believe that your client could have expressed their dissatisfaction with the tender process without tendering such unsubstantiated allegations or defamatory remarks against BMCs officers. BMC and indeed its officers thus reserve their rights in that regard.”
From some of the documents which have been passed to the DCEC, it has since emerged that one of the companies was adjudicated on a license that was only acquired after the tender closing date. It has not been established how the license made it to the adjudication phase when the company did not have it at the time tenders were closed.
Unconfirmed reports state that vital document related to one of the tenders under investigation have since gone missing and the BMC cannot account for their disappearance.