Sunday, October 25, 2020

Parley recommends cancellation of BTO multi-million Dubai deal

The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies has recommended the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) to reverse its controversial P17 million Dubai office deal as it is illegal according to the BTO Act.

Appearing under oath before the Committee on Monday, BTO Marketing Manager Julian Blackbeard said she was comfortable signing the contract as it was done in the presence of BTO Head of Legal Zibanani Hubona. The Telegraph investigations reveal that on her trip to Dubai, Blackbeard was accompanied by BTO Head of Legal Zibanani Hubona who also signed the contract as the BTO witness. Another problem unearthed by the parliamentary committee is that although Blackbeard signed the contract, it was not sanctioned and approved by BTO Board of Directors as constituted by the BTO ACT. The contract, as per the BTO ACT was supposed to be signed by the Chief Executive who did not travel with the officials that went to Dubai.

The Telegraph investigations also found out that the contract documentation does not show any date on which the contract was signed. It has also emerged that to date the payment has not yet been processed to the Dubai based company. The Parliamentary committee expressed discomfort with the contract and questioned Blackbeard for her direct engagements with the minister despite the well known organisational structure and order of reporting. 

Blackbeard’s direct dealings with Tshekedi, according to committee chairman, Guma Moyo, resulted in the CEO being sidelined which ended up in the chaos at BTO. 

In his earlier appearance before the committee, Tshekedi said all the information he gave was provided by Dithebe, adding that he assumed it was the right procedure to follow as there was no board in place.

“We recognise that there are errors and it is regrettable that we were being guided by people who have been there for a long time ÔÇô whom we thought knew the procedure better than us,” said Khama.

Dithebe on the other hand insisted that he advised the minister of the need to first do a market analysis regarding the Dubai office. He went on to state that the team that went to Dubai were going to discuss the content of the contract, adding that he was surprised to find out that it had been signed.

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