Tuesday, March 5, 2024

State purchase of lodge infuriates Gantsi councilors

Councilors in Gantsi are fuming over the recent purchase of Tautona lodge by government alleged to have cost over P100 million.

The Telegraph is informed that the lodge in question was owned by former cabinet Minister Christian De Graaf.

Information further points out that the purchase was made in May this year confirming government as the majority shareholder of Tautona Lodge Proprietary limited.

Councilor for Tshootsha, Kealeboga Gaebuse said it is shocking that government has unanimously decided to buy the lodge despite its pronouncement that the country is in the middle of an economic crisis.

He further said they were previously informed that a freehold plot will be purchased for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security to act as its training facility, adding that it is shocking that government has deviated.

“We had thought that since there are other pressing issues for Batswana, priority spending will be made in their direction, buying a lodge is not a priority, so in this case government is just trying to economically empower an individual.” 

“It is public knowledge that the lodge was not making profit, it was even rented out,” said Gaebuse.

He said there is secrecy in the purchase as government did not consult or not even to reveal how much money was used.

“This procurement will not only benefit De Graaf, we suspect that President Mokgweetsi Masisi will also benefit from this,” added Gaebuse.

He also said councilors have already laid out alternatives to the matter. They are planning to either write a letter seeking clarity on the issue or force government to retract purchase through litigation.

He indicated that lone 3 which was a wildlife camp under former President Ian Khama was at some point changed, developed and given to DIS.

“We are now shocked that lone 3 which is within Gantsi District has been abandoned and mind you, a lot of money was spent there constructing an airstrip,” added Gaebuse.

For his part, councilor for Bosele ward, Cosmos Soke also expressed shock at the purchase, saying that there was no consultation.

The BDP councilor indicated that it is shocking how government decided to purchase the lodge using state coffers without engaging community leaders.

“Council will be meeting this coming week, we will have to sit down as councilors and seek answers on it because we represent those who voted us, they will soon be seeking answers from us,” said Soke.

On the other hand, councilor for New Xade, Jumanta Gakelebone said government purchase of the lodge has even created confusion amongst staff.

Gakelebone said he will follow up the issue, saying that councilors were kept in the dark.

“Council meeting will be commencing very soon, so this will present an opportunity for us to interrogate even further” 

“As the council, we have been trying to find ways to generate revenue using 15% of the council budget for the District and I think it would have been proper for government to have consulted us.”

“Of course, we will not rest until we find answers because for any purchase made by government especially in our jurisdiction there has to be consultation, for us to even delve into issues of finding out whether whatever that is being purchased is worth the penny,” added Gakelebone.

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