How Officials Ate BOT50 Millions



The Vision 2016 Council was advanced with P3 086 941 for the management of the National Roving Torch (molelo wa kgolagano), of which P2 065 820 was used for the procurement of the torch and its accessories, the Auditor General Pulane Letebele has revealed in her report.
Letebele further revealed in her audit of government accounts that P163 731 was used for the procurement of the attire for the protocol team, leaving a balance of P857 390 which she has asked to be accounted for by the Secretariat.
‘‘The procurement process was characterised by waivers for direct appointment method by the Secretariat as the intention was to speed up procurement. However, this approach defeated the principle of competition and transparency geared at the achievement of value for money,’’ Letebele indicated. She said in terms of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Regulation 23(2), an emergency procurement may be permitted only for emergencies which could not have been foreseen by the procuring entity and which are not the result of delays by or within the procuring entity.
‘‘It was noted that these direct appointments were in some instances for activities which were planned during the financial years 2014/2015, 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, therefore were foreseen and their procurement could have been done well on time. This showed laxity in planning on the part of organizers as they waited until it was too late to procure the goods and services,’’ the government chief auditor pointed out. She said the procurement included provision of meals, accommodation, gift vouchers, fireworks, flags, security services, sound system and media publicity coverage provided by various suppliers.
‘‘Weaknesses were observed on the evaluation of the tender documents, which raised doubts on the integrity of the evaluation.  It was noted that some of the evaluators neither completed nor signed the evaluation form for the tenders as was the case in the evaluation report for the supply of BOT50 custom-made advertising blimps, awarded for P387 682, which was signed by only 2 of the 3 evaluators,’’ Letebele revealed.
She also revealed that a service provider was awarded a tender on 30th June 2016 amounting to P1 042 720 for research, production and supply of coffee table books for the 50th Anniversary Independence Celebrations.  ‘‘Subsequently, two part payments were made totalling P677 768 but as at the time of the audit, in August 2017, the coffee table books had not yet been delivered by the supplier. At the time of writing this report it was well over 12 months since the order was placed and the books had still not been delivered,’’ the Auditor General reported.
‘’This is a matter for concern with regard to loss of purpose for which they were ordered and the possible loss of money already paid to the supplier,’’ Letebele raised her concern.
She said an overseas company was contracted to supply calisthenics clothing at a cost of P156 520, but since some components were found missing from the consignment, a complaint was lodged with the shipping company in August 2016. Considering the urgency of the matter and the importance of the items for the 50th Anniversary Independence Celebrations, the Permanent Secretary granted authority for the items to be purchased again from the same company at an estimated cost of P144 600 as the loss was to be recovered from the shipping company. ‘‘I could not establish the total cost of calisthenics clothing because the records for the tender and the additional expenditure were not availed during audit, as well as correspondence to show that follow-up was done to recover the loss on the initial consignment,’’ the Auditor General reported.
In the Francistown district, various suppliers were engaged to provide catering services on Independence Day at various amounts totalling P240 544, without having been issued with Government Purchase Orders, which was in contravention of Government procurement rules.
‘’A director of a company engaged to provide sound system at various events in Francistown at a cost of P243 000 was also a member of the Entertainment Committee, indicating possible conflict of interest. The District Commissioner’s office in Maun had P500 000 available for BOT50 celebrations and an amount of P253 026 transferred to the Maun Umbrella Village Development Committee had no supporting documentation as to how the expenditure was accounted for.”
Letebele noted that in some of the districts visited, namely Francistown and Mahalapye, registers for donations made by the public and the private sector were not provided when requested for during audit. She pointed out that detailed expenditure reports with supporting documents, such as payment vouchers were not available in the three districts visited, namely Mahalapye, Francistown and Maun. ‘‘For example, the Mahalapye district was allocated P800 000 for 46 villages but only P359 990 had documents supporting how it was utilised. Amounts totalling P11 028 400 were allocated to various Botswana Diplomatic Missions abroad through Letters of Authority to facilitate independence celebrations and reports were submitted to the Secretariat supporting the expenditure of P7 459 682.
An amount of P4 528 539 was disbursed to the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation to provide accommodation and banquet for the invited Heads of State and delegates, numbering 145.  Initially, hotel accommodation was arranged, but subsequently the University of Botswana Medical School was furnished in order to accommodate the Heads of State. ‘’It was however observed that the Medical School accommodation was never used, even though an amount of P4 155 063 was spent on the furnishings, but instead hotels were used to accommodate the Heads of State at a cost of P373 476,’’ Letebele highlighted.
Numerous activities required officials to work outside normal hours, hence overtime had to be paid. Letebele stated that during her audit, she observed irregularities on how overtime was paid.
‘‘Overtime amounting to P201 762 was paid separately from the BOT50 staff monthly salaries and as a result was not taxed.  In some instances, overtime authorization was done after work was completed.  In other instances, the date and the hours of overtime on the overtime authorisation forms were not stated.  It was observed that some of the officers worked for more than 14 hours overtime in a week, contrary to Section 11 (3) of the Employment Act, No. 26 of 1992,’’ Letebele exposed the rot in her report.