Judge recommends investigations into research tender awarded to the company
A local consultancy company, Enosyst Consulting and its managing director Sean Tembo could be investigated for corruption after forgery of research findings into a study intended to guide the formulation of Ministry of Health framework to tackle drug abuse in this country.
It has emerged that while the Ministry of Health paid Enosyst P100 000 for data collection across the country, the company never collected data but instead forged findings and submitted a fake report to government.
After winning the P400 000 research tender to conduct the study, Enosyst never developed data collection tools for the study and the questionnaire that Tembo claimed was a data collection tool developed for collection of information turned out to be a document from World Health Organization, used for a different purpose, according to a recent judgement by Gaborone High Court Judge Tshepo Motswagole.
According to the judge the most grievous part about the absence of the study and collection of raw data across the country is that what is presented as the basis for policy formulation on alcohol and substance abuse is a misrepresentation of the true state of affairs with high risk of failure of the resultant policy. Judge Motswagole said it is common cause that Tembo was given advance payment by the government for the sole purpose of data collection and it is not in dispute that such money was not used for the purpose intended even though Tembo held out his report as if it was informed by empirical data. “The final report was held out as if it is a product of scholarly joint effort by experts when in fact and in truth that was not so but a sole effort by Tembo who has no qualifications to handle scholarly research,” said the judge.
The judge noted that Professor Keitseope Nthomang a lead researcher who was engaged by Enosyst to assist in carrying out the study also considered such conduct to be bordering on dishonesty and unprofessionalism: “I think that description is too mild as really such conduct is dishonest and most likely amount to attempt to obtain by false pretences, if not stealing by conversion if you have regard to the sum of about P100 000 received by Tembo as advance payment for empirical investigation and data collection, which was not carried out either at all or in representative manner, let alone at national level as the terms of reference clearly intended.”
The High Court indicated that the kind of conduct by Enosyst and its Managing Director requires further investigation and the involvement of law enforcement agencies. “Since submitting the final report and I suppose their bill, the company has not really bothered to demand payment for the work. What was done deserves to be investigated to protect the public interest and consultancy services and I so recommend to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health,” the judge recommends.
This publication was not able to ascertain whether the ministry had any intention to implement the recommendations of the High Court- as its Permanent Secretary was not available to give an immediate comment.
The case reached high court, after Enosyst attempted to sue Professor Nthomang for writing a letter that raised concerns about its dishonesty to the Ministry of Health.