Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tender dispute led to Motlalekgosi’s sacking?

Silas Motlalekgosi, the former Commissioner of Prisons, was not just retired his sacking, it would appear, emanates from a disputed tender.

He had hoped to receive P 3 million and several hundred thousands from a government tender until the levers of power were cocked into action to circumvent his impending windfall.

The State was about to purchase his property for P3,700,000.00 (Three million seven hundred thousand Pula but reneged at the eleventh hour. 

President Mokgweetsi Masisi fired Motlalekgosi seven days after his intention to challenge the legality of a decision by the Directorate of Intelligence and Services (DIS) to cancel a tender that the directorate had awarded him, documents leaked to The Telegraph show. 

The Attorney General (AG) and the DIS received a notice of intention by Motlalekgosi’s lawyers to take legal action against the Directorate on 29th January 2021.

Later on 4th February 2021 he received a letter from Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi informing him that Masisi had taken a decision to ‘retire’ him from Botswana Prisons Services.

Another letter dated 11th  June 2020 signed by Deputy Director General of the DIS Tiro Kgotlhane on behalf of the Director General was dispatched titled: “Cancellation of Tender For the Supplies Procurement of a Warehouse in Mogoditshane Lot 1095 for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security”  informed Motlalekgosi that “tender No. PAGPA.MTC/DISO20/2019-2020 Supplies Procurement of a warehouse in Mogoditshane Lot 1095 for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security has been cancelled.”

“This cancellation is as a result of financial challenge that the Government is facing due to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kgotlhane further informed Motlalekgosi

The leaked documents further reveal that Motlalekgosi wrote a letter on 28 January 2021 through his lawyers notifying the AG and the DIS of his intention to drag them before the High Court challenging the legality of cancellation of the said tender.

His lawyers Monthe Marumo and Company, state that on 5th February 2020, a procurement was initiated by DIS to acquire plot 1095 in Mogoditshane “being by way of direct procurement of our client’s warehouse unit situated thereat.” 

The lawyers indicated: “The tender by our client was duly accepted by the DIS. Such acceptance followed a negotiations meeting held between the DIS and client to purchase our client’s property for a sum of P3,700,000.00(Three million seven hundred thousand Pula.” 

They said following such a meeting between the parties with respect to price of the property, their client duly confirmed in writing to DIS of the aforesaid price tendered in the aforesaid sum of P3,700,000.00 to cover the supply of the building and its amenities including kitchen fittings, cold room and generator.

“Following such process and procedures, there having been an offer by our client duly accepted by the DIS, a contract thereby came into being which bound the parties to perform in accordance with terms and conditions of the tender,” said the lawyers. 

The lawyers said Motlalegosi was “shocked to receive the DIS correspondence on the cancellation of the tender for the supply of a warehouse in Mogoditshane Lot 1095 from the Directorate and this subsequent to a contract having ensued between the parties.” 

“Our client dispute the cancellation thereof an will contend that it is unlawful, illegal and irregular and not supported by law and or the procurement process. This is particularly so given that the DIS as a Procuring Entity could not have invited bids which funds were either inadequate or not available being necessary to carry out the procurement,” said Motlalegosi’s lawyers.

They added that “In view of the breach by the DIS of the contract whereby particularly the Directorate has proceeded to purchase directly from other bidders save from our client , our instructions re to approach the High Court upon expiration of 30 days from the date of receipt by the Honourable Attorney General of this correspondence…” 

Motlalekgosi through his lawyers is seeking a declaration that the aforesaid breach by the DIS is illegal or wrongful and be set aside.

“…In any event the purchase of other properties leaving only that of our client is discriminatory and does not afford our client equal protection before the law under the Constitution of Botswana and that it be so declared,” said the lawyers.

They also warned: “It will be noted that this procurement relates to security and intelligence and could therefore be a sensitive matter that requires to be handled delicately and if possible through negotiations without necessarily having the affairs of the Directorate become an open secret and into the public domain to the extent that during the course of the matter, discoveries maybe be sought and ordered into various aspects of this particular procurement.” 

In his letter addressed to Motlalekgosi, Magosi stated:“His Excellency the President has directed me to inform you that he has, in exercise of the power vested in him by Section 8 of the Prisons (Amendment)Act  No.40 of 2017, decided to retire you from the Botswana Prisons Service with immediate effect.” 

In a brief interview with this publication, the dismissed commissioner confirmed his dismissal. “It is true that I have been forced to retire before time”.

He said he was given the retirement letter by the minister  of Justice ,Defense  and Security Kagiso Mmusi.

“Even though I would not  want to dwell much on the contents of the letter  the fact of the matter is that I failed to understand the contents of the letter.”

He added that the minister could not give him a satisfactory answer.

He said he was expected to retire at the age of 62 and at the moment he was left with seven years to retire.

He said  he has accepted what had happened and he holds no grudge with any body and he will not put any legal fight at the moment.  

When asked about business dealings that he has with DISS he replied that “ it is true  that I have business dealings with DISS but I am not in a position to divulge what dealings therefore ask DISS as they might be in  a better position  to discuss with you”

About DCEC investigations Motlalekgosi said he is not aware whether he was being investigated by the crime busting agency.

Efforts to contact both minister Mmusi and DISS spokesperson were futile.

Meanwhile this publication has ben reliably informed that recently Motlalekgosi wrote a four-page confidential letter to the minister Mimusi about the challenges that  his department is facing.

It is understood that minister Mmusi then refereed the letter to president.

However, it is understood that both his immediate supervisor been permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice Defense and Security as well as the Permanent Secretary to the President were not content on how the former commissioner acted   as he could have channeled his complains through the PS not the Minister.

It is further reported that DCEC is about conclude its marathon investigations implicating Motlalekgosi. It is understood that he is likely to be charged with abuse of office.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper