Mmegi Online :: BTO in complete chaos
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Last Updated
Friday 13 September 2019, 17:00 pm.
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BTO in complete chaos

Skeletons tumbled out of the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) closet, as minister Tshekedi Khama admitted to authorising a Dubai trip for a junior officer and a legal advisor.
By Innocent Selatlhwa Tue 20 Sep 2016, 17:38 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BTO in complete chaos








The junior officer, Jillian Blackbeard and legal advisor, Zibanani Hubona went to Dubai to sign on a P17 million deal to set up an office in the United Arab Emirates.  Khama, however, said he was willing to cancel the contract as he has since learnt that it was illegal. Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises, Khama said he was not aware that he was acting illegally by authorising purchases and procurements for the organisation.

“I was advised by the CEO that as we did not have a board, the minister was to sign and give instructions.  Had I known that I was not supposed to, I would have not done so and could take full responsibility,” he said.

Khama promised that he would be appointing board members in a short time.  He said it was important that though there was need to appoint members, he did not just appoint, but sought people who can “come to the party”. “We have organisations with boards, but are not performing.  I also realised that most names were recycled and thought we needed different people with the skills to live the organisation’s mandate,” he said.

Khama said all the signings he made were on the basis that the CEO had asked him to.  He said the CEO was fully aware of the Dubai contract, which he said was discussed at the ministry with BTO and knowingly authorised the trip.  The minister said he went to Dubai while the team was there and he left them there.

He said that the CEO would have been part of the trip but had other commitments.  On assertions by resigned CEO, Thabo Dithebe that there was no market research for the Dubai deal, Khama said research was done and informed the decision to open the office.

Khama has authorised a total of P88 million, which was sourced from the Tourist Development Fund. 

This did not sit well with the committee, which argued that the money should be used with knowledge of the finance

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ministry. In one of the expenditures, Khama instructed that P1.3 million be paid to someone compiling a Botswana 50 memento book without having tendered. He said it was because of limited time and that the deputy permanent secretary, Felix Monggae had identified someone with a track record. Khama said they engaged throughout with the CEO who never said anything suggesting that he was against the contract signing.

When called to appear after the minister, Dithebe stood by his own word that he did not authorise the trip.

“All I knew is that they had gone there with the legal advisor to discuss some details on the contract and not to sign. 

When I asked Hubona why they signed while Blackbeard was a junior officer, he told me the minister instructed that they sign the contract,” he said.

Blackbeard argued that the CEO, having authorised the trip and not having contributed as he was asked to, meant that he was happy with the contract and wanted it signed. She said after signing the contract she informed the minister that they had done so and copied the same information to the CEO.

Dithebe admitted that he did not enjoy working with Khama as he was too involved in the operations of the organisation hence his resignation. 

He said whenever the minister wanted money for a certain project, he would ask that a letter instructing such be written by the minister for future reference.

He maintained that there was no market research and that he did not play any role in the contract being signed, as he had a problem with it and wanted BTO to do its own. 

He also maintained that he told the minister many times that it was not right to operate without a board.

With such testimonies given, Samson Moyo Guma concluded that the organisation is in chaos and called on relevant parties to consult with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on administering the Tourism Development Fund, which he said should be operating with the finance ministry.

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