Sunday, April 18, 2021

Parliament urged to endorse probe on BDF tenders

A Commission of Inquiry is the only solution to establishing whether the award for supply of military equipment, vehicles and food at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was marred with corruption on not, Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi, has said.

“What I want the Commission to do is to look specifically at why BDF tenders are not advertised,” said Mmolotsi on Friday as he tabled a motion before parliament, calling for a probe on the award of BDF tenders between 1990 and 2000.

Mmolotsi said that his investigations reveal that these tenders were never advertised and were treated as classified.

“Although many people would have wanted to tender, such tenders were a preserve for a few,” he said.

He said that the tenders were won by foreign companies, business entities belonging to influential members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), like Satar Dada, Charles Tibone, Ray Molomo and a company belonging to President Khama’s brothers, Tshekedi and Anthony Khama.

He said that from the ministry’s response on the award of tenders at BDF was that since the tenders were not advertised, it was common practice for BDF to go out to known suppliers.

Mmolotsi said it was a shocking revelation from former minister, Lesego Motsumi, that government did not know how suppliers got to know about BDF’s billion pula tenders.

He said a Commission of Inquiry was the only solution to uncovering the truth about the award of these tenders.

A distressed Mmolotsi told parliament that some records on companies that did business with BDF could not be found. He said that of all the companies that had been engaged to supply BDF with equipment, vehicles and ammunition, 36 of those were listed without directors while authorities could not locate the records of one of the suppliers.

He said in some instances, suppliers of boats were allowed to use BDF vehicles, adding that it is important to find out if such practice was the correct procedure.

Without disclosing names, Mmolotsi claimed that some top army officials were doing business with BDF.

“Some of the senior members at the time are alleged to have been doing business with BDF, for example those with bakeries,” he stated, adding that buying at the time was not structured.

Mmolotsi said that it is important to emulate other countries and make public the buying of military equipment, like aircraft, guns, bullets, clothing and food. He said such a system would create a competitive and proficient business trade.

He wondered how an open tender to supply food, clothing and vehicles could compromise national security.

During the year 1990 to 2000, President Khama was Commander of the army.

Parliamentarians are set to debate Mmolotsi’s motion this coming Friday.

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