Thursday, September 28, 2023

Masisi’s kith and kin fight over multi-million water tender

The case in which President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s sisters and a nephew are battling over a half-billion worth of tender for the controversial Goodhope water supply works is expected to open a can of worms.

It emerges in papers before Gaborone High Court Judge Justice Michael Leburu that Masisi’s sister Boitumelo Phadi Mmutle and a Chinese national Huashi Li elbowed the President’s nephew Olebile Joseph Pilane out of the company which clinched more than P500 million Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) tender. 

Chronicling the events that led to the current legal dispute, Pilane states through his lawyers, MK Moesi & Co. that sometime in 2020 Li represented to him that he was the owner and Director of G&M Buildings Services. Li then offered Pilane 40 out of 100 shares in the company.

Court papers also suggest that the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) was allegedly roped in to cow down Pilane to resign from the company that had won the tender.

According to court records, Pilane and Li agreed that Pilane would pay for the shares by preparing bids for tendering for various works on behalf of G&M Buildings Services.

Pilane was subsequently issued with a share certificate representing 40 shares as agreed. In compliance with the agreement between Pilane and G&M Buildings Services, Pilane was entrusted with the preparation of and took lead in the bids.

“This was for the following tender works; construction of Good Hope sub district water supply scheme Phase 2.2 contract 1; works contract for the contraction of Gabomononyane-Molepolole NSC (North South Carrier) connection; construction of Good Hope Sub-District Water Supply Scheme Phase2.2 Contract 2 and Contract 3B: Leokole, Gobajango, Semolale and Mabolwe Water Supply Scheme/2182/07102020,” court papers show.

The bid as per paragraph 13.1 and 13.2, here above, were lost G&M Buildings Services was successful and was awarded tender for bid at paragraph 13.3 above, court records state.

Pilane had therefore fully paid his shares by working on the said bids and hence issuance of a share by working on the said bids and hence issuance of share certificate, in his favour, to that effect, the papers state.

In support of the bid, G&M Buildings Services submitted the names of Pilane, as was required.

“As at paragraph 14 here above, the First Defendant (G&M Buildings Services) in joint venture with Tianyuan Construction, won and was awarded a tender for the Construction of God Hope Sub District Water Supply Scheme Phase 2.2 contract 2 for P549 699 654.79,” the papers indicate.

According to court papers, “Soon after the tendering by the First Defendant (G&M Buildings Services), the Fourth Defendant (Li) started making some unreasonable demands on the Plaintiff (Pilane), which were not related to functions and duties of the First Defendant (G&M Buildings Services), which the Plaintiff (Pilane) rejected.”

One such demand, court records show, was for G&M Buildings Services “to make a payment of 5% of the contract sum to the Botswana Democratic Party.”

The papers indicate that on the 19th May 2021, Pilane was invited by Li to a meeting in Phakalane with Messrs Boitumelo Phaladi Mmutle and Ketshidile Ntholo Hlanze (Pilane’s aunties).

“At the said meeting, Pilane was presented with a draft letter for him to sign by the Fourth Defendant (Li). The said draft letter was intended for him to resign as a director and relinquish his shareholding in the First Defendant (G&M Buildings Services),” court papers show.

Court records state: “When the Plaintiff (Pilane) indicated his refusal to sign the letter, he was threatened by the both the Fourth Respondent and Ms Mmutle that some state agents would be sent to him to ensure that he signs the said letter.” 

As a consequence of the above, Pilane immediately and reluctantly signed the letter of resignation as a director or G&M Building Services Propriety Limited.  Pilane said meeting, to the extent that it dealt with issues relating to G&M Buildings Services affairs, was unlawful as it was not constituted by directors and shareholders of the same company.

He said the Directors and shareholders of G&M Building Services have not convened a meeting where Pilane was asked to resign as Director or relinquish shares in the company.

Pilane has not, in terms of the Company’s Act, signed for transfer of any of his shares in the company to anybody.

Subsequent to the said meeting Pilane said, he was denied access to the company’s premises and operations by Li.

As search conducted at CIPA by Pilane revealed that the shareholding of G&M Buildings Services has since been reconstituted with Kelebogile Monnaatshipi holding 80 shares and the remaining 20 shares being held by Tswelakhumo Ventures Propriety Limited Monnaatshipi (a company owned by Pilane’s aunties Mmutle and Hlanze).

Court papers show that the reconstitution of shareholding is unlawful as Pilane did not relinquish or transfer his shares in the company.

On 3rd May 2022, Pilane said he “caused a letter to be written to” the company demanding that the parties should resolve the issue of Pilane’s interest and shareholding in the company.

The said letter was served on the company and its secretary respectively.  None of the directors or shareholders of the company responded to the said letter, court records show. 

According to the court papers, it was Li who through his attorneys, responded to Pilane’s letter.  As a result of all aforesaid, Pilane said he was unlawfully deprived of “the fruits of his shareholding and has suffered damages which the defendants are jointly and severally liable to pay.”

In terms of the aforesaid joint venture agreement, Pilane was a 40% shareholder and Tianyuan Construction a 60% shareholder in the bid.

Pilane said in terms of the usual practice in the construction industry, the profit to be realized from such projects will be up to 20% of the contract price. He said the tender amount for the said works being P549 699 654.79, the profit to be realized by the joint venture would be P109 939 930.96.  Court papers also show that the defendants’ 40% share of the said profit would be P43 975 972.38.  Consequently, Pilane’s lawyers said, the defendants are jointly and severally liable to pay to Pilane, jointly and severally more than P17.5 million.

Some of the reliefs sought by Pilane are the transfer of his 40% shareholding in the company be declared unlawful. Pilane also demands judgment in the sum of more than P17.5 million.


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