A company owned by Dr. Gagoitsewe Saleshando, the son of veteran opposition politician, Gilson Saleshando, has been implicated in a three year P45 million catering tender row at the University of Botswana (UB).
A company owned by Dr. Gagoitsewe Saleshando, the son of veteran opposition politician, Gilson Saleshando, has allegedly been implicated in a three years P45 million food-catering tender row at the University of Botswana (UB).
Boitekanelo Catering, a constituent of the Boitekanelo Group of Companies owned by Dr Saleshando, comprises as well Boitekanelo College, Boitekanelo Emergency Medical Services and Boitekanelo Occupational Health Services.
Moghul Catering Services, who have been long time caterers at UB’s main campus, are aggrieved that a new comer has won the lucrative tender over their heads. The Managing Director of Moghul Catering, Ahmad Siddiqi, told The Botswana Gazette that he suspects foul play in the tender awarded to a company with no track record- defying very stringent tender regulations of the University. The company has written several complaint letters which The Botswana Gazette has seen to the Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Mokgathi disputing the tender awarding process.
In the last letter written to the University, dated 5th April 2016, Moghul argues that: “The refectory tender submissions closed on 8th May 2015 and as early as June 2015, allegations had surfaced that the tender was already awarded to Boitekanelo Catering Services, and by early July 2015 several of our staff members were already being approached for recruitment by the said Boitekanelo Catering Services.”
Instead of getting a response to previous three letters written to UB management or an invitation to a meeting, Moghul received a notification that their bid for the catering tender had been unsuccessful on 18 March 2016.
In the letter, Moghul management makes a claim that Boitekanelo Catering, at the time of the award, had only been in existence for two weeks prior to the close of tender submissions, violating Clause 1.1 of Tender regulations.
Company records sourced from CIPA (Companies and Intellectual Properties Authority) show that Boitekanelo Catering Services was incorporated on the 19 March 2015 and had existed as a business name under Centre for Clinical Services Excellence (PTY) LTD, which was deregistered on 6th November 2015. University of Botswana tender documents stipulate that the tender to cater for the Main Campus was targeting companies that have a proven track record of catering services of three years.
“The tender was assigned on 11th March 2016 to a company (Boitekanelo) that did not physically exist and the students being the main constituents were excluded in the awarding process of this tender,” alleged Siddiqi to this publication.
Moghul management express exasperation for being beaten by an unknown company, after being in the business for 20 years and having serviced institutions such as Otse Police College, Botswana International University of Science and Technology and Botswana National Productivity Centre.
On the letter to the university management, Moghul also asked why the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Affairs) at the time, Lydia Ramahobo Saleshando, did not recuse herself from the tender process since her stepson Dr Saleshando is a major shareholder in both Boitekanelo Catering Services and Centre for Clinical Excellence Pty Ltd. Dr Saleshando reffered this publication to the university management when reached for comment while Prof Lydia Saleshando could not be reached.
Moghul says that the claim by Student Affairs that Moghul lost the tender due to not submitting a trading license was false.
The caters also claims that the tender document was vague and did not specify menus and was thus open to questions and placing suspicions on pricing and confidentiality placements in respect of the tender.
The Student Representative Council of the University has also raised concerns with the catering tender and wrote a series of complaint letters to UB management and in one letter, the SRC reiterates an earlier call for removal of both Moghul and Currypot as the caterers at two food outlets serving a 10,000 strong community of students and staff.
The SRC questions the removal of Mogul alone while Currypot is left to operate. They also question accountability in the tender process citing the ‘conflicted member’ in the tender board, namely Prof. Lydia Ramahobo-Saleshando, who has since left the institution late 2015.
The SRC demanded the University to review the tender process for the particular tender in question; removal of the alleged conflicted member of the tender board, Prof. Ramahobo-Saleshando and finally, a review of all tenders awarded to both Currypot and Moghul.
A memorandum by the SRC addressed to UB student body in January 2016 made claims that UB management have connived to take over all refectories at the Main campus and have both Moghul and Currypot kicked out in favour of their own preferred company.
“Under the new dispensation, living allowance will be credited directly into the catering company’s account like what happened in the past. On Campus Students will only be given a meagre allowance of P150 for toiletries and P1,100 for off campus students and this leave the company pocketing millions a year.”