Five months following the crowning of the 2017 Miss World Botswana Queen Nicole Gaelebale, service providers at the pageant remain unpaid. Following their public appeals to get the Ministry Youth & Culture (MYSC) to pay for their services some local youth owned business are still being sent from pillar to post.
Speaking to Lifestyle on Friday one of the service providers Mosenodi Makacana said they had written a letter to the Office of the President (OP) seeking intervention.
“OP then contacted the Ministry of Youth and Culture on January 22nd, 2018 to establish reasons for the delay in payments,” He said. A week later, January 30, they contacted OP and were told the response from MYSC was that the ministry had credited the funds to the Miss World Botswana License Holders, Botswana Council of Women (BCW) account to distribute.
“This is despite the fact that we had been contracted by the ministry and they were the ones responsible for disbursing the funds.”
In the letter written to OP the service providers indicate that days before the pageant they were assured that all their invoices with accompanying cover letters from BCW had been submitted to MYSC for payment processing.
“WE made a follow up with both BCW and MYSC through the Director of Youth Lawrence Ookeditse who assured us payments were being processed and would be ready within a week,” the letter reads. “In November,” it continues, “the ministry released two batches of paymnets, P192, 000 and P1 million respectively to BCW. To our surprise the BCW communicated that the ministry through the Youth Director were sending email lists of who should be paid in the first two batches and that those not included would be paid in the third batch to be released by MYSC.”
In another letter to OP, dated February 8, 2018 the youth owned businesses indicated they had been told a meeting had been arranged in the early morning of the same day with Minister Thapelo Olopeng but were disappointed when neither the minister nor the Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate showed up. They decided to stick around and wait for the minister who was said to have some other engagements. When they finally got to meet the minister he told them he was never aware of any arranged meeting with them and would get his secretary to schedule a meeting.
“We are saddened and disappointed at how MYSC has continued to treat us regarding this matter. We are suffering more and more as this issue drags on. Some of the people we had outsourced some services to are dragging us to court as we speak, trade licenses have expired, and offices are closed as we cannot afford rentals anymore.”
Speaking to Lifestyle BCW Chairperson Dorcas Thobega has distanced her organisation from the matter saying it was the ministry’s responsibility to pay the service providers. “We only received funds from the ministry with a specific list of companies and individuals to pay,” she said. “We were told others would be paid at a later stage and we are yet to find out why and when.” She said they could not understand why the ministry would release the money at intervals instead of paying off everybody at once. MYSC’s Ookeditse could not be reached for comment as he said he was busy at the time of going to press.