Opposition political parties have criticised the direct appointment of American comedian, actor, author, broadcaster and television presenter, Steve Harvey’s company for the provision of radio and television production services for a period of three years by government.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) recently approved a request by the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) to directly engage the celebrity’s company, Steve Harvey Global. The unsettling news received widespread criticism from Batswana, including opposition parties that demanded that the tender be scrapped off since it was awarded irregularly.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) said in a statement Tuesday that even without the benefit of details regarding the considerations the DBS and the PPADB made to arrive at the decision, it is apparent that both have failed to fulfill their duty of care to the nation for a number of reasons.
The party’s president, Dumelang Saleshando said the decision to directly appoint Harvey couldn’t be justified as it does not address an emergency. He described the decision as disrespectful, unpatriotic and downright unconscionable. He also said both the DBS and PPADB had a duty to Botswana to test the market in order to secure the best value for money for Botswana in awarding the tender.
Saleshando explained that there is a strong case of appearance of insider trading and conflict of interest emanating from Harvey’s close friendship with President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his prior engagement with the DBS around possibilities at the Mass Media Complex.
“There is also a strong case for adverse motive, arising from Harvey’s prior engagement with the DBS around opportunities at the Mass Media Complex. Harvey cannot advise DBS to pursue a project and then turn around to provide services for personal financial gain on the same project. He is fatally conflicted. The DBS and the PPADB should know better,” said Saleshando.
The BCP added it would report the matter to relevant authorities in America if Harvey chooses to proceed “with this polluted transaction”. The party also called on Cabinet to reverse this tender immediately.
For their part, Botswana National Front (BNF) through publicity secretary, Justin Hunyepa said: “Fellow opposition, Botswana National Front (BNF) is being vindicated that looting and corruption takes place under the state of public emergency and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).” “Harvey is possibly being rewarded for campaigning for the BDP in the last elections.” Hunyepa argued that the funds being given to Harvey’s production company could have been used to improve the local creative industry, which has been locked down since last year. Meanwhile, the Alliance for Progressives’ Young Progressives League also condemned the tender award. It said the direct appointment of Harvey’s company is a slap in the face for young Batswana with skills and qualifications in broadcasting.