Monday, January 24, 2022

I was not bought by DISS to join BDP – says Reatile

Member of Parliament for Ngwaketse West, Mephato Reatile has dismissed reports that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) bought him with the multi-million Pula Unified System for Prepaid Card Registration (USPR) project tender to defect from the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) and join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Reatile, who also sits in the Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee, is linked to BOPHOSA (Pty) Ltd, the company that was given the lucrative DISS project through a single source tender process.

Reatile joined the BDP in July 2012 around the time the DISS Director General; Isaac Kgosi appropriated the tender from Botswana Telecommunications Authority who had initiated the project. The award of the tender to a newly formed company bucked the DISS trend of awarding tenders to friends and associates.

Reatile told Sunday Standard that he had nothing to do with the award of the DISS tender to his nephew, Michael Keakopa’s company. The Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security (PCIS) is charged with the legislative oversight “to examine the expenditure, administration and policy” of the DISS.

BTA initiated the project after a number of audits revealed that despite a directive to register their prepaid customers, the three Public Telecommunications Operators (PTOs): Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana had difficulties verifying the national IDs of their customers. It was then resolved that there should be a centralised database where the three PTOs could verify the data when registering their customers.

A centralised registration system was to assist the electronic registration of all SIM card before they could be activated. A technical committee comprising the three PTOs and BTA was set up to come up with modalities of procuring a unified system for prepaid registration which would be housed by the BTA and having multiple terminals connecting registration points around the country.

In March 2011 a technical committee comprising the three PTOs and BTA was set up to come up with modalities of procuring a unified system for prepaid registration which would be housed by BTA, having multiple terminals connecting registration points around the country.

The committee was tasked with sourcing at least three quotations for the system from different suppliers. The BTA had already initiated negotiations with one supplier when DISS Director General, Isaac Kgosi entered the scene and usurped the project.

The project was awarded through a single source tender and is to be housed by DISS.

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