Friday, July 10, 2020

National Lottery on to a questionable start

One of the bidders in Botswana’s National Lottery operation Ithuba Botswana says the company is considering its options after they lost the bid that went to Grow Mine Africa.A spokesman for Ithuba Botswana said they are currently collating papers that will in the end determine way forward.In a press release Ithuba Botswana said they were disappointed.“Ithuba Botswana regrets to announce that our bid to become Botswana’s National Lottery Operator was unsuccessful.”

Ithuba Botswana says they will not be discouraged in their endeavor to expand into Africa.According to the press release the company remains proud of their track record which will always remain a key leverage going forward.Investigations by Sunday Standard have revealed that Ithuba Botswana is a consortium led by Ithuba of South Africa and two locals Todd Mangadi and Benson Madisa. Ithuba had also set aside 10 percent of shareholding for the disabled and women. Up to a point the proven technical expertise of Ithuba Botswana and the promising shareholding to incorporate minority groups had given the group a head-start and a lead in the score card.

But towards the end things started to shift as Grow Mind Africa overtook Ithuba Botswana. Grow Mine Africa trades as Dineo Tsa Pula. The single largest shareholder in Grow Mine Africa is Parks Tafa, a senior partner at law firm Collins Newman & Co who owns 10% through one of his companies.The technical partner is a Mauritius company who will effectively be managing the business.

Other partners include Sefalana, a publicly listed company, businessmen Carthage Mathage, Moathodi Lekaukau and Mclean Letshwiti and businesswoman Tumie Ramsdan among others. After Grow Mine Africa won the bid, Ithuba Botswana was made the reserve bidder which effectively means that should negotiations between Botswana Gambling Authority and Grow Mind Africa not materialize, Ithuba Botswana will automatically become the next preferred bidder and assume negotiations.

Negotiations will center around convincing the Gambling Authority on the efficacy of the roll-out plan.But since the winner was announced on Thursday there have been simmering insinuations of “score card tampering.”Gambling Authority had engaged a South African company to manage adjudication process. Gand Thornton did the Quality Assurance.But still Ithuba Botswana are clearly not happy how the whole process was done and also with the outcome.One of the requirements was “fit and proper.”

And it turns out that many businessmen did not meet the cut and opted to use wives instead. Others chose to use mistresses as fronts.The biggest strength of Dineo Tsa Pula has been their broad citizen majority.But a source close to Ithuba grudgingly admits it“Citizen empowerment is god. But it should not be used as a cover for corruption.”

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.