Friday, February 23, 2024

Paper trail reveals long history of women, youth empowerment fronting

A number of foreign and  citizen male owned companies are scoring tenders worth hundreds of millions of Pula from government by fronting Batswana women and youths as shareholders.

The Sunday Standard Investigation desk followed an extensive paper trail detailing a long history of how Batswana women and youths are being used as tokens to secure government tenders

In one of the most striking examples, a Kenyan male owned Botswana company changed its shareholding structure to 100 % female citizen owned company in order to win the “Scanning of Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Land Records For Deeds Registry Department/1926/15082017”, tender and immediately changed the ownership back to the Kenyan man after being awarded the tender.

The successful bidder Brush And Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited was registered and incorporated in Botswana on the 18th of March 2002 and re-registered under the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority Act of Parliament on the 22nd of August 2019. This company is currently owned through sole shareholding by a Kenyan national; Mr. Oliver Njuguna Ngugi.

Sunday Standard investigations revealed that sometimes in 2017, the Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation Services floated a tender for “Scanning of Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Land Records For Deeds Registry Department/1926/15082017”. One of the requirements was that “preference is placed in favour of citizen owned companies as per the Botswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy passed by Parliament in 2012.” At the time of the invitation to tender (ITT) Brush And Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited had only one shareholder and only one Director in the name of a Kenyan national; Mr. Oliver Njuguna Ngugi.

Sunday Standard can reveal that Brush And Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited swiftly changed its ownership and shareholding to Ms. Bonnye Tlamelo Lejage, a citizen of Botswana. This swift change automatically ensured that Brush And Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited qualified to bid for the tender.

Between August and September 2019, the company Brush & Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited was awarded the tender for the scanning of deeds records at a value of twelve million pula (P12 000,000.00). A the time this tender was awarded to Brush & Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited, the company was solely owned in shareholding, at least at CIPA,  by a Motswana woman, Ms. Bonnye Tlamelo Lejage.

On the 10th of December 2019, three months after the tender was awarded, the ownership, shareholding and directorship of Brush And Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited swiftly reverted to Mr. Oliver Njuguna Ngugi, the Kenyan national.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that even during the few months that the company was temporarily transferred to the Motswana woman, she did not have active involvement in its management to an extent proportionate with her degree of ownership. The Kenyan national remained the only and single bank signatory to the company accounts.

It is worth noting that in submission of its bid, Brush & Sushy Holdings Propriety Limited was in joint venture with a Kenyan company called Digital Imaging and Scanning International (DISI). This project was completed after six months in February 2020. At the time when this project was completed the company, as remains the case at the time of going to press, is owned by the Kenyan national; Mr. Oliver Njuguna Ngugi.

This is not an isolated incident, but part of an apparent pattern to frustrate government’s objective to empower citizens, women and youths.

The Sunday Standard investigations suggest that another company Angel Guardian Security (Pty) Ltd may have benefited from fronting.

Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited was incorporated under the laws of Botswana on the 25th of May 2012 and re-registered under the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority Act on the 03rd of July 2019. Investigations reveal that Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited was up until 05th of April 2021 owned jointly by Mr. Baleseng Kapurua and Mr. Abram Morotsi.

Currently, Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited is owned, at least at CIPA by Ms. Kemo Pelontle Morotsi who was appointed sole shareholder, sole owner and director on the 05th of April 2021. The change in ownership was done just a month before the tenders were floated. The change in ownership was made in favour of a youthful woman. Amongst the requirements to qualify for the tenders was that companies tendering should be owned by a young person and or a woman. It is unclear as to how the company knew the tenders would be floated.

At the time of changing the company ownership, shareholding and directorship, the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security had floated attender for “The Provision of Security Services for Magistrates Residents in the Southern and Northern Region. Tender Reference; AOJ/MTC/RM005/2020-2021. Amongst the specifications was that preference should be given to youth, women and disabled people owned companies as per the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy passed by Parliament of Botswana in 2012.

When the tender was closed on the 31st of August 2020, Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited had managed to submit its bid under a new owner, being not only a youth but also a woman.

By end of January 2021, the tender; AOJ/MTC/RM005/2020-2021 was awarded to Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited at a cost of BWP 16, 677,036.28 on a 2 year years’ contract.

Another tender was floated by the same Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security during the month of May 2021. This tender was for “The Provision of Security Guard Services For Judges and Registrars residence in Botswana”. Reference of this render is: Tender; AOJ/MTC/RM001/2021-2022. The bid was closed on the 08th of June 2021. This tender was also awarded to Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited at a cost of BWP 9, 085, 470.80 on a 2 years’ contract.

Still in the month of May (17th), 2021 another tender was floated by the same Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security for “The Provision of Security Guard Services to Administration of Justice courts in the Southern and Northern Region. The tender is referenced;  AOJ/MTC/RM 002/2020-2021. It was closed on the 16th June 2021 and was subsequently awarded to Angel Guardian Security Proprietary Limited at a cost BWP 12, 455, 595.66 on a 2 years’ contract.

At the time of going to press, though the company had changed ownership to a youth, a woman, there were no changes made with regard to Security Council. The ‘new’ owner has not been given security clearance and as such the security license for the company remains in the name of the old registered shareholders. At the time of going to press, Sunday Standard could not establish if the bank account signatories had been changed to the new shareholder.

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