Local entrepreneur and director of International Aviation Solutions (IAS), Teezzarh Seduke has reacted with shock at a recent media report alleging that his school owed the Ministry of Tertiary Education more than P40 million.
In a phone interview, Seduke questioned a purportedly leaked report from the Auditor General, which was at the centre of what he termed ‘a new curve ball’.
He said if indeed it was an official document from the department, that the Department of Tertiary and Education Fund (DTEF) is the one owed, then its contents should be subjected to contractual merit.
“They have their position. The school has its own. So I hope now they can finally have a fair and transparent platform to reconcile the two differing claims, against each other,” Seduke said.
“In fact, according to the recent article, three different amounts being P44m, P28m and P6m are allegedly owed to DTEF, so I don’t understand which one is the final position. We hope their report will be availed to the school, for clarity and transparency.”
According to Seduke, if it will be the only way that Batswana and its leadership can understand how this issue has been deliberately and maliciously exaggerated, then he is willing to be interviewed live on national television or radio.
However, he said it should be on the strict conditions that the Ministry and its departments were in the same forum, and more importantly that doing so would not be contemptuous of any court processes.
Confirming that at one stage he was ‘confronted’ by some officials from the Auditor General, Seduke said just like the recent incident where he was summoned by the Committee of Parliament on Education and Skills Development, he has documented “concerns that I shall share publicly at the correct time and forum”.
According to him, there needs to be objective assessment of the root cause of the academy’s inability to complete student training, as the money that has supposedly been set aside to pay South African schools, is from the public tax collections so, “Batswana must be told all the facts and not parts of what allegedly happened”.
“There is need for natural justice; I will not grow tired nor will I feel shame of seeking intervention from anyone, party or platform as I simply need to disrupt the current situation where only the other parties want to present their side before the table as facts without verifying their allegations and that can only be done if I’m allowed to state my position, as an interested
“Again, Batswana are not being told the whole story and the leadership is bombarded with one-sided allegations, thereby resulting in biased decisions.”
At the heart of the dispute between IAS and DTEF is incomplete training contract and the amount of money paid for its delivery.
IAS is alleged to have made an invoicing error resulting in them having to deliver more training hours, compared to what was initially invoiced. Records show that IAS has been pleading for the error to be corrected, in line with the terms stated on its invoices.
On the other hand, a letter authored by former Minister of Tertiary Education permanent secretary (PS) on December 5, 2018, declares a rigid position that denies the academy the right to apply invoice correction, on the basis that the invoiced training hours are contractually fixed at 200 hours and therefore a fixed price and duration.
In a contradictory twist to the former PS’ position, an October 8, 2018 report authored by DTEF, in favour of transferring students to South African schools states “Finance - The average total costs of training per student across the nine institutions ranges from R439,879.00 to R930,119.58. This covers both tuition and maintenance fees for the entire time of training. However, there is a possibility of incidental expenses incurred from aspects of training such as landing fees during cross-country flight training, remedial sessions and any other training activities deemed necessary for acquisition of the licence.
In this event the total average training cost is likely to increase the prices”.
He added that the statement clearly portrays the Ministry’s understanding that pilot training cost is not fixed nor rigid, contrary to the position communicated to and when dealing with IAS.
Seduke said a sober assessment of records present a case that is far simpler than it has been made out to be.
However, records show that the school had normalised all the compliance deficiencies that were raised against it, by both Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) and Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) respectively.
The High Court will in near future hear the arguments of IAS’ urgent application against Parliamentary Committee on Education and Skills Development, on the legal lien over students records, pending the dispute resolution about the fees between the Academy and DTEF