- Minister Dow law firm on Limkokwing payroll
- Limkokwing denies conflict of interest
“I am investigating a small matter about yourself (Gazette journalist). Rumour has it that you are targeting me for political reasons and that there are ethical issues that require scrutiny” – (issues of under-age girls and unpaid child support have been mentioned) – Dow.
LAWRENCE SERETSE & TSAONE SEGAETSHO
Investigations by The Botswana Gazette have established that Limkokwing University of Technology is connected to the Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr. Unity Dow through a million pula contract deal with the law firm, Dow & Associates raising issues of conflict of interest.
This publication has discovered that 60 days after Dow was appointed Minister of Education, Dow and Associates entered into an agreement on 1 May 2015 with Limkokwing University to provide legal services at a P25 000 monthly retainer. It is also alleged that the university is in a four-year contract with the law firm.
The agreement was entered into with Limkokwing senior vice president Dato Gail Phung, who investigations by this publication indicate is a close friend to the Dow family and has attended the wedding of the Minister’s son last year.
The law firm represents the university on the following: consultations (over the telephone and in person), Review and re-drafting of existing agreements, negotiating, reviewing, vetting and drafting of agreements, provision of advice on labor and other employee related issues, provision of ad hoc legal advice and drafting of opinions on general legal matters, corporate/commercial law services and other legal and advisory service.
“We propose a monthly retainer fee of P25, 000.00 commencing on the 1st May 2015. This fee is based on an expected minimum amount of work being approx. 5 hours per week at a rate of P1, 250.00 per hour. The retainer fee shall be reviewed by the parties every year (the next review being on or about the 1st May 2016),” reads the retainer agreement from Dow and Associates seen by this publication. The agreement drafted by the law firm lists Minister Dow as the signatory.
In 2010 when Education Minister Dow retired from the High Court, after 11 years of service, she opened the Legal Firm “Dow & Associates”. She was then appointed to parliament as specially elected MP and later ascended to the post of Minister of Education on 1 March 2015. Dow Associates entered into a legal services arrangement with Limkokwing 60 days later.
Information sourced from the companies records office show that Tumisang Dow, the education minister’s son and two other partners, Lesego Nchunga and Eddie Babuseng are the directors of Dow and Associates, which was registered as a business in December 2015, the same year the Limkokwing contract was commenced.
The Law Society portal still registers that Minister Dow is at the helm of the law firm but in the Limkokwing contracts Tumisang Dow is referred as “the primary contact persons.”
Contracts seen reveal that Dow and Associates now represents Limkokwing University, an institution that operates within a professional jurisdiction Minister Dow presides over, in connection with its legal matters as external legal counsel.
Limkokwing University confirmed to this paper that Dow and Associates is offering them legal services. The university’s public relations dismissed issues of conflict of interest stating that the engagement of the law firm was based solely on the fact that one of the partners was the only attorney they could find with qualifications relevant to their business being economics, law and finance.
“Another relevant consideration was the fact that the law firm has experience in human rights issues, which we felt was important for an institution with a large student and staff body,” the university stated.
Limkokwing University said students’ quotas and allocations for every financial year are done by the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF), hence the university sees no conflict of interest. This is despite the fact the DTEF is an office under the Ministry of Education Skills and Development that is led by Minister Dow.
Minister Dow threatens reporter
When asked for comment, Dow did not immediately answer questions raised by this publication but rather attempted to force this publication to “postpone its deadline” saying “while your deadline is important…so are those about whom you decide to write.”
Minister Dow further threatened and attempted to blackmail The Botswana Gazette reporter from publishing this story saying that she was also investigating him for unethical conduct.
“I could easily answer your questions, with the result that you simply turn around to write what ever you wish to write, but I am investigating a small matter about yourself,” the Education Minister threatened.
“Rumour has it that you are targeting me for political reasons and that there are ethical issues that require scrutiny – (issues of under-age girls and unpaid child support have been mentioned). I am waiting for information which will only be provided by end of the week,” reads a correspondence from Dow. (sic)
Last week Friday The Botswana Gazette forwarded Minister Dow questions asking her to clarify her relationship and Dow Associates and Limkokwing University.