Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Legal tussles delay innovation hub project

The Botswana Development Corporation (BDC)’s legal woes remain an impediment in the construction of the planned Botswana Innovation Hub project.

“The design and construction of the planned innovation hub facilities in phases will proceed upon resolution of legal challenges,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Innovation Hub, Allan Boshwaen, said.

He did not want to be drawn into discussing the financial implications on a project whose date of completion is uncertain while millions of pula in investment seem to be lost at the courts.

The BDC lost a case against civil and mechanical companies who had tendered to do some aspects of the Botswana Innovation Hub project after the companies were alerted by anonymous sources that the tenders were awarded irregularly.

Armed with documents dropped at their door steps which bore facts, Mmile Mhutsiwa & Associates and David Langdon approached the courts to seek redress.

The High Court recently found out that the BDC flouted tender regulations and its own rules in the awarding of some tenders for the P350-million Botswana Innovation Hub.

The court found that BDC breached own tender rules after Mmile Mhutsiwa & Associates and David Langdon companies dragged the corporation before the courts ┬áwhen the corporation awarded a tender to The Fitzwilliam’s Partnerships and refused to debrief the companies how they had lost their bids.
“In awarding the tender, BDC acted irrationally and illegally in breach of its tender rules and regulations and the tender bid requirements as well as the PPADB. The rules are also underpinned by certain values of good governance. The grounds for judicial review are irregularity or procedural impropriety, illegality,” the judgement read.

The High Court found that after informing the Mmile Mhutsiwa & Associates and David Langdon of the outcome of their bids, the BDC stonewalled from making a fair and transparent disclosure of information to make an informed decision on a challenge of the award.

The Botswana Government had commissioned BDC to run with the Innovation Hub at a fee.

It remains to be seen if the Government of Botswana will withdraw its money from BDC who were initially appointed as project managers before they ran into a mountain of governance and legal problems.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper