Following the cancellation of a controversial P45 million catering tender, the University of Botswana has launched an investigation that will seek to illuminate how former Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Lydia Nyati-Saleshando, came to participate in the adjudication of a tender submitted by Boitekanelo College, a company part-owned by her son. Having lost the tender in a manner it deemed unfair, Moghul Catering Company, approached the Gaborone High Court with an urgent application asking Justice Dr. Zein Kebonang to have the whole process reversed. However, before the matter could proceed to the argument stage, UB cancelled the tender in effect and by default granting Moghul the remedy it had sought in the first place. Thus when court convened last Wednesday morning, the latter company withdrew the case. However, another legal front has opened up as Boitekanelo launches its own application to contest the cancellation of the lucrative contract that was to last for three years. On its website, UB has announced the withdrawal of the tender by posting a message that says: “The University of Botswana wishes to inform the General Public and all other interested parties of the withdrawal of the following tender: Re-Tender Provision of Catering Services for Block 121 refectory at the University of Botswana main Campus Tender UBT 2016/2017-09. We wish to apologise for any inconveniences caused by this withdrawal.” It would seem that the tender is being re-advertised because its status is “open” with June 17, 2016 and 1200 hours stated as the closing date and time respectively.
Across town, UB management is investigating Nyati-Saleshando whose term of office as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Affairs) ended in December last year. At the time of the court hearing on Wednesday, the investigation was said to have been ongoing. While Nyati-Saleshando did declare her interests (in this case her personal relationship with Dr. Gagoitsewe Saleshando, a co-director of one of the bidders), she is deemed to not have complied fully with the varsity’s tender regulations. Interestingly, the Student Representative Council, which was represented on the adjudication committee, is said to sympathise with Nyati-Saleshando whom it feels is being victimised because she did what the rules require. Sunday Standard learns that the former DVC offered to recuse herself as chairperson but other committee members insisted she stayed put because there was no chance of her flouting the rules without other members noticing. Nyati-Saleshando is the wife of the former Botswana Congress Party president, Gil Saleshando, and it is being suggested that some ruling party operatives are concerned about a multi-million pula tender being won by a company with opposition party links.
For the mean time at least, the winner is Moghul which is currently providing catering services to UB students at the main campus. Legal dispute or none, students have to eat and the current stand-off has necessitated the extension of its contract with UB while the judicial process plays itself out.