Thursday, September 24, 2020

Local companies side-lined in P100 Million Khoemacau catering contract

BY THOBO MOTLHOKA

Khoemacau Copper Mining, a subsidiary of Cupric Canyon Capital, stands accused of overlooking local companies for the awarding of a P100 Million Camp Management Services contract.

In an apparent move to prevent other interested Batswana citizen owned companies from taking part in the bidding process the Mine hosted a closed bidding process with  a select Botswana and South African companies before awarding the multimillion Pula catering contract to a South African company Fresh Camp Services ,trading under Waterway Investments.

Sunday Standard has learnt that Waterway Investments, which does not feature on the original list of bidders was registered after the June 2018 commencement of the bidding process with a citizen ownership of 51 percent to allay any suspicions and avoid contravening the Botswana Mines and Minerals Act Regulation 12 which states that preference must be given to Botswana products and service agencies located in Botswana and owned by Botswana citizens or bodies corporate established under the Botswana Companies Act.

All indications are that Waterway Investments has no prior experience in carrying out similar projects, contrary to the Mining company’s assertion that five bidders were identified for the camp management services contract and were approved based on their ability to meet the scope of work and their past experience of similar nature.

Some of the local companies closed out of the bidding process are of the view that while the selection of a local company should make both financial and commercial sense no such considerations were made in the awarding of the three year contract.

“Our procurement procedure which is followed in all material contracts, starts with the selection of vendors with the requisite skills and experience. As a result, we make use of closed tenders thus sending out tenders to selected vendors only. This is an established project norm,” Khoemacau Management told Sunday Standard.

Waterway Investments, conveniently,  has a 51 percent citizen ownership belonging to Dosela Investments, owned by Wilhelmina Makwinja (Motswana) who defeated Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Vincent Seretse in the recent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections.

Other shareholders include South Africans Andrew Cooper (24%) and Ian Armstrong (25%). Both Cooper and Armstrong are Directors of Fresh Camp Services. The Mining Company has also been accused of giving preference to under qualified South African expatriates over Batswana. “White South Africans without relevant academic qualifications are issued work permits by the Labour Department for jobs that hundreds of Batswana who are unemployed qualify for,” says a source close to the Mining Company. “Top BDP politicians help these unqualified South Africans to acquire work permits,” the source says, adding “Khoemacau disregards Batswana businesses. They prefer travel and recruitment agencies from South Africa over local companies.”

According to the source, all procurement and contract decisions are made in Johannesburg. “The few Batswana managers are afraid to talk even though they are against local businesses being sidelined,” the source says. 

Most mines in Botswana, owned by multinationals, have employed Batswana in top managerial positions managers up to General Manager while Khoemacau stands accused of reserving such positions for expatriates despite all the expertise that Botswana citizens have to offer.

“Khoemacau is the 100% owned subsidiary of Cupric Canyon Capital which has offices and staff based in the US, UK and South Africa. Cupric Canyon was set up as a global investment vehicle for copper projects. These offices supply services to Khoemacau in line with the practice by other globally competitive multinational companies, and also provide services to other companies in the Cupric Group. The people based in these jurisdictions are not Botswana-based at all, nor are they employed by Khoemacau,” the company explains, adding “Khoemacau is currently in the project phase. Those with experience of projects will understand that this phase is normally of a short nature and very specialized.  Thus, companies need certain particular skills only for a short period of time before they leave the company and move onto the next.”

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