Government, at times, has money lying around to dole out to wealthy businessmen.
The startling revelation was obtained by the Sunday Standard from one of Lesedi Motors (Pty) Ltd directors, Satar Dada.
He said this when quizzed over the seemingly controversial manner with which the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) purchased an unspecified number of Land Rovers from his company on direct appointment in 2007.
The Ministry of State President paid Lesedi Motors (Pty) Ltd an advance payment guarantee of P28┬á016┬á547.00 for an unspecified number of Land Rovers to the BDF in 2007 for tender number STB 0/0/12/2006-2007.
“What is dubious about it [the tender]?” Dada asked before declaring: “Government gives advance payment to companies if they need the money. This has been the practice. ┬áSurely, you are not a businessman. We did not ask for the advance payment. The government offered. They [government] had money lying around. We [Lesedi Motors] said we don’t need the money. We then opened an account from which the government can pay us as and when we deliver the Land Rovers,” Dada told the Sunday Standard.┬á He could not say how the government arrived at the figure when the quantity of the supply was not specified.
His business partner, Charles Tibone, who at the time of the transaction was also director, could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone despite repeated efforts.
While confirming that indeed his company received advance payment from the government, Dada said his company was not in financial doldrums so they decided to open a “special account for the Botswana Government”. Asked at which bank, Dada said First National Bank of Botswana.
The BDF spokesman, Colonel Paul Sharp, had not responded to the Sunday Standard enquiries by the time of going to press.
The government last year said in a rebuttal to this publication’s story that the P28 million advance cheque was paid into a certain commercial bank which was at the time not named.
Dada told the Sunday Standard that the government, through the “special account” transaction, realized P600 000 in accrued interest.
“I am unable to deny or confirm that the DCEC is investigating the two gentlemen you are referring to. DCEC investigations are internal and confidential,” the DCEC spokesman, Lentswe Motshoganetsi, said last week.
When the Sunday Standard wrote the story a little over a year ago, the government, through the Daily News, dispatched a rebuttal to the effect that there was nothing sinister about the company being paid an advance payment. ┬áIndependent experts on government and private procurement have described the advance payment by the BDF as tantamount to having given Lesedi Motors a blank cheque.
The government claimed last year that the BDF paid the money into a certain commercial┬ábank, adding that the P28 million was released to Lesedi Motors by the mystery bank┬áas and when the Land Rovers were delivered. The identity of the bank which supposedly held the money on behalf of the government, however, remains shrouded in secrecy at the behest of the government.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) approved the advance payment request in March 2008 for the unspecified number of Land Rovers.┬áIn March of the same year, an amount of P3, 616, 620 was approved for procurement of additional Land Rover Defenders 110 Tdi canvas from the company.
The PPADB records had no indication that the P28 million was an estimate amount.┬á
In May 2007, the BDF made another request approved by the PPADB for procurement of four additional Land Rovers for “operational purposes” from the company “through direct appointment” at a cost of P1,094,696.00 for tender number STB 0/0/12/2006-2007, a request which was once again approved by the PPADB.
Further, on 29 November 2007, the BDF requested a waiver to procure an additional 85 units of Land Rovers to replace “previously approved” procurement of┬á Troop Carrier Variant at a total cost of P27┬á659┬á936.70.