Thursday, October 22, 2020

Parley Committee to grill Tshekedi over BTO’s P17m Dubai office

PARLIAMENT – The Minister responsible for tourism, Tshekedi Khama, is set to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies following reports that he has been micro managing the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) over the last several months. 

The Thabo Dithebe-led organisation has been operating without a board of directors for over nine months now ÔÇô a development that has lead to BTO management being forced to report directly to Tshekedi. 

According to the Act that established BTO, the Board of Directors should be the one that makes all decisions and can only engage the minister for guidelines. However, it emerged on Monday that Khama has been running the show at BTO, overlooking the chief executive officer due to the absence of the Board of Directors. 

It is the responsibility of Khama to appoint the board ÔÇô a recommendation which both the Permanent Secretary in his ministry, Elias Magosi and BTO outgoing Chief Executive Thabo Dithebe said they had long made to him. 

As a result, Khama is expected to appear before the Parliamentary Committee chaired by Tati East Member of Parliament, Guma Moyo, sometime this week. Other members of the committee include Gaborone Central MP Dr. Phenyo Butale, Gabane/Mmakgodi MP Pius Mokgware, Boteti East MP Setlhomo Lelatisitswe as well as Gaborone Bonnington South legislature Ndaba Gaolatlhe. 

As the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies continued to have more questions than the answers they were looking for, on Wednesday, Moyo asked Magosi to “ensure” and facilitate the appearance of Khama before the committee. 

Moyo and his committee have been forced to seek answers directly from Khama after both Dithebe and Magosi indicated that they were not “part and parcel” of the Dubai office deal. The deal is estimated at around P17 million and was reportedly not sanctioned by the board nor was it passed through the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB). Moyo said that any process that involves spending of money by any parastatal should be guided by the PPADB. Dithebe, on the other hand, confirmed that the Dubai office deal was not ran through such process nor was it sanctioned by his office. 

“I was unable to go because I had other engagements but I did not issue any instruction for any officer at BTO to sign the contract. I was informed upon return that the contract has been signed and I requested for a copy which I now have,” Dithebe said. 

Details of the BTO multi-million Pula office that is to be opened in Dubai were first confirmed by Dithebe during his appearance at the committee earlier last week. 

According to Dithebe, an official contract with a Dubai operator has been signed by Khama during his recent trip to Dubai with Marketing Executive Julian Blackbeard. He said the model for Dubai is such that they were going to partner with a company that would promote Botswana in the Dubai office. 

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