Former Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama will not be taking the witness stand in a court case by one supplier against Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO).
The parastatal, which the minister oversaw, has been taken to court for failure to settle a bill owed to a company that produced digital images meant to sell the country outside. Virtually Anywhere Close Cooperation had on Tuesday subpoenaed Khama before court to give evidence against BTO for its failure to pay them.
The tourism body reportedly failed to pay the South African company after it was contracted to produce visual images that were to be used to sell the country in Berlin, Germany, Durban and Cape Town in South Africa.
However, Khama never made it to court and will not appear as the High Court Judge, Michael Mothobi had motivated the parties to reach a settlement agreement.
First, the Judge had forced the company to drop Khama as a witness explaining that he had little to offer to the case, but instead advised the company that the chief executive officer (CEO) would have been the right person to call as a witness.
“I don’t understand why you will go for the minister when the CEO was the one with the right information about the matter. The minister will offer little about the matter. I don’t know any reason why he should take the stand. Again I don’t know why the case had to come to court in the first place,” he said.
The parties were given time to forge a settlement but on Wednesday, they approached the court again having failed to settle and wanting to proceed with the case.
However, the Judge was still not having it, giving the parties another final chance to go back to the negotiating table, failure to which then the case would proceed before court.
The parties are locked in a payment dispute after BTO failed to pay the South African company a total of R 172, 244.55 with interest, the money it has owed since March 2015.
According to court papers, the company is seeking payment in the latter sum following the organisation’s CEO and minister’s approval for images to be used at the; The world travel market in Cape Town and The tourism Indaba in Durban.
The parties had in January 2015 made and entered into a verbal agreement which was through telephone and email communication, of which BTO had a special request for the company to make and produce three animated digital images which would sell the country in different countries.
Subsequently on or around February 2, 2015 the company delivered a statement setting out the total costs of the animated images.
“Thereafter the parties agreed to cut costs, the company requested to make only one image to be used for three exhibitions. Later the company was told that the image would not be used in Berlin but only for SA exhibitions only and a rhino animated image was delivered,” read the papers. Following the organisation’s request by their authorised agent Jillian Blackbeard for the company to deliver invoice for the work, BTO allegedly failed to pay despite continuous lawful demand.