Batswana, foreign contractors fight over billion pula gov’t tenders

 Peloetletse and  Mosienyane
Peloetletse and Mosienyane

As the mega projects tender war between Batswana owned consortia and foreign multinationals heats up, the former has revealed that they are fed up and willing to take risks to level the playing field.

While there is no law barring foreign enterprises from participating in government bids, a new consortium of seven Batswana companies called Legacy Pursuit Proprietary Limited has revealed that it will stop at nothing to make sure that they get their share in an industry dominated by multinationals. The company is currently embroiled in corruption controversies following allegations that one of their shareholders Joseph Peloetletse, the husband to Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Emma Peloetletse, is using his wife’s influence to get a lucrative tender for the construction of 28 police stations across Botswana. At two-months-old in May this year, Legacy Pursuit was one of the nine companies approved through selective tendering for the construction of 28 police stations across the country for the Botswana Police Service (BPS). Now a whistleblower has penned a complaint letter to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to initiate an independent and comprehensive investigation into the procurement decisions related to the construction of 28 police stations. Legacy Pursuit Proprietary Limited says they seek to protect local contractors who have faced challenges competing against foreign companies for big projects. The Batswana consortium says they have concerns over foreign companies winning contracts meant for Batswana businesses, particularly in infrastructure.

The company directors feel foreign corporations bidding on taxpayer-funded projects have driven the push for local collaboration and joint ventures. One of the shareholders at Legacy Pursuit Lekwalo Mosienyane told the media this week that the biggest competitor with locals is multinationals. “When you compete with these big companies and you are tendering, you need to have a certain turnover. Few Batswana can take part in billion pula tenders like that, therefore, grouping ourselves as Batswana means we can compete with multinationals. The seven of us can provide all the competencies because we have built towns and we are no child’s play”, he highlighted. He further claimed that the controversy behind their newly established consortium is that they are a threat in the market. Mosienyane said for the first time, multinationals have got their match and it is Batswana.

 Mosienyane
Mosienyane


He said the whistleblower mislead people because all the nine companies that were shortlisted for the police station tender were a conglomeration because nobody can do 28 police stations alone. “All of us are consortiums, partnerships and joint ventures. Our company was established in February so what? The fact that it is new is neither here nor there. The entire competitors are a special purposes vehicle. The bedrock of the company is the individual companies,” he said. Mosienyane said there was a deliberate misunderstanding from the whistleblower who said they are a shelf company. “We have been called a shelf company, which is a deliberate intent to mislead. We have never been a shelf company. Where is this whistleblower blowing from?” he questioned.

He added that their companies are Batswana-owned companies with 13 competencies and have different offerings. Mosienyane said they have set up the company to compete with the multinationals. “There is no Motswana multinational, in all these mega projects money is being paid to foreigners and they take the money away. All the billions spent in construction in Botswana, the money flights out of the country,” he said. He said by establishing their consortium they have caused a serious upset. He said Legacy Pursuit is a major competitor in the market because they have got everything it takes to put together a project.

For his part, the man behind the controversy surrounding Legacy Pursuit, Peloetletse said they are the first Batswana to come up with this, therefore, they have rubbed certain people the wrong way. “Our intention is to counter the internationals. All these bridges you see around were done through joint ventures and there was no Motswana there. So we have raised our hands in this risky move, which could see us losing property. We are representing Botswana, we are not going to stop but we are pushing further to challenge foreigners in big projects like these,” he said. He said among other things their company’s main task is Public-Private Partnership (PPP), not small projects like building primary schools. Peloetletse said they are targeting big projects done by multinationals and are ready for any risk that will come.

  Mpugwa
Mpugwa

He said what saddens him the most is that Batswana who will come later and follow their route will be afraid after seeing what they have gone through. One of the shareholders, Marina Mpugwa, stated they have been in this industry for so long and have fought for it. She said in this tender, there are 28 different police stations in varying areas, some with tough terrains, each station accompanied by seven houses, and guard houses. “Over that, the police stations must run fully equipped with all ICT equipment, vehicles that make a police station work, they are going to be under management of bidding companies for 99 months therefore, P250 million is out of proportion if you bring these together,” Mpugwa said.

She added they are used to these kinds of projects being done by international companies therefore people should be happy that there are Batswana who can rise to these challenges. “For some time we have been watching foreign companies doing it. As seven experienced companies, we mobilised our resources and bring these expertise with an intention of helping the government and protect our industry. They can’t water down our experience and expertise because we formed a consortium that is new,” she emphasised. Mpugwa also pointed out that she distastes corruption therefore if they happen to win this tender on corruption she won’t take it. “When we selected ourselves we selected people who have never been involved in corruption. We are hoping the adjudication process will be fair and not biased because of the reports that have been said about us by our competitors,” she said.

Editor's Comment
Government’s efforts commendable!

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