Saturday, October 23, 2021

DCEC probes Dow, DISS supplier of choice

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is investigating an alleged relationship between Basic Education Minister Unity Dow and International Aviation Solutions (IAS) Director Thatayaone Seduke.   Seduke who was the preferred supplier of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is also part of a DCEC investigation against DISS Director General, Isaac Kgosi. The DCEC investigations commenced while Dow was still the Minister of Education and Skills Development. The probe comes after Seduke allegedly approached Dow requesting that the Department of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF) should sponsor potential students destined to enrol with IAS.   DCEC Public Relations Officer Nlayidzi Gambule would neither confirm nor deny that DCEC is investigating Dow and Seduke. “…In response the DCEC does not public make announcements of cases that are still under investigation as per section 44 of the Corruption and Economic Crime (CECA) which prohibits disclosure of information,” he said. Gambule added that “I therefore cannot confirm or deny that we are investigating the aforementioned individuals (Dow and Seduke).”   Dow did not want to respond to a Sunday Standard questionnaire that was sent to her in September; instead she instructed her Private Secretary Peter Maruapula to arrange for a meeting with the Sunday Standard team. “The Minister says that I must inform you that she would like to have a one-one meeting with you on a date to be decided in due course,” he said. Despite concerted efforts through texts and phone calls, the minister did not tender her response. Maruapula who was at pains to explain why the minister did not honour her promise said “I reminded the minister about your messages and questions you sent and she has informed me that she would call you.” Sunday Standard also sent  WhatsApp messages to the minister and the WhatsApp ‘blue ticks’ feature showed that she had read them but still did not respond.   Sunday Standard wanted to establish among others whether Dow has recently been a subject of investigations by the DCEC over links to funding of a number of tertiary education institutions and whether this been made known to her.  This publication also sought to know “what has been your (Dow) most recent commercial links with IAS-Aviation Academy or its owner Teezah Seduke?”  and whether “…Did this in anyway compromise you in your official capacity as Minister of Education given that he had approached you in that capacity for his school to be paid upfront for the intake of students?”     Seduke did not answer calls or reply text messages sent to him by this publication nor did he respond to WhatsApp “blue ticks” which indicated that he had read the message on WhatsApp.   Last year Sunday Standard reported that the Ministry  threw out advice from its own experts that it should not enrol students with IAS and instead gave the institution business estimated at P50 million. Documents passed to the Sunday Standard revealed that senior officials at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development have turned a blind eye to advice from Human Resource Development Council and the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) not to sponsor students for courses offered at International Aviation Solutions (IAS). Sunday Standard is in possession of a savingram from the then acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (support service) a certain Mothetho to officials at Department of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF) stating that International Aviation Solutions Director Thatayaone Seduke had appealed a decision by the department not to sponsor students for courses offered at his school. The savingram showed that senior officials at the ministry’s headquarters upheld Seduke’s appeal and directed that he should be allocated students in batches. Communication between senior officials at the Ministry’s headquarters and DTEF suggests that Seduke had demanded that he be allocated at least 75 students. Replying to Seduke’s appeal, the savingram states that the students should enrol at the school in three batches (25 students to be enrolled per a year) and the total should be 75 students. HRDC is reported to have pointed out that the school does not have the capacity to enrol such a considerable number of students. They also argued that the job market for the courses offered at the school was saturated and the program of study is also not a national priority. It also emerged from documents seen by this publication that junior officials at DTEF were against Seduke’s suggestion that the ministry should make a once-off payment for the students enrolled at his school instead of payment being made per cycle of sponsorship (or semester). The documents further revealed that International Aviation Solutions has also caught the attention of Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) who want the school to address issues relating to training license and accreditation of courses. Officials at HRDC and DTEF had also taken issue with the fact that enrolling students at the school was more expensive for government than enrolling them at schools outside the country. The Sunday Standard has also raised information that around the time, Dow and Seduke entered into a curious sale for a farm in Leshibitse with an inflated price-tag in excess of a million pula.   Last year Seduke had requested that a questionnaire should be sent to the school’s marketing department and had promised to “make a follow up and revert” but had not done so at the time of going to press. Seduke is also a director at Defence Concepts Pty (Ltd), Power force and Roseta Enterprises which have been given DISS contracts running into hundreds of millions of Pula without going through a public tender. President Ian Khama’s senior private secretary Brigadier George Tlhalerwa has since rebuffed claims that the President is the patron of the school. “He is the patron for Kalahari Flying Club which houses International Aviation Solutions,” explained Tlhalerwa.  The school is a member of the Kalahari Flying Club. On praising Khama for being supportive, the school notes on its website that “to the VERY best of our knowledge, no other country in the WORLD has a President who has such great passion for aviation that he personally pins the wings on students that qualify for their respective pilot licenses, in Botswana. This is always a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ moment for all students, as they get to interact with the President Ian Khama during this special annual ceremony that is organized by the Club.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper