as sheriffs attach the parastatal’s vehicles
- P350 million worth of vehicles to be auctioned
- CEO and his deputies’ vehicles attached
- Expenses from abandoned P500 Million military school haunt BDF, AG
- Construction consultancy demands P350 million for abandoned military college
The white elephant Botswana Defense Force (BDF) infantry training school at Paje has landed the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) in trouble after the latter refused to pay C.P.M Architects for their consultancy work which they now say amounts to over P350 Million.
There was drama yesterday at BHC headquarters as the parastatal’s legal team was hard at work trying to stop Deputy Sheriffs instructed by Patrick Matlho of Matlho Attorneys from attaching BHC property amounting to about P354 Million to settle the debt it owes his client.
Upon arrival at the BHC headquarters at 10 AM, the Gazette team found deputy Sheriff Uyapo Mafika of the BHC legal department office in a very tense and exhaustive meeting behind locked doors.
The deputy sheriff attached all BHC vehicles including those of the CEO Reginald Motswaiso and his deputies Pascaline Sefawe and Nkaelang Matenge as per the writ of execution of 25th September, 2018.
The writ, that the Botswana Gazette is in possession of, ordered the Sheriff to take into execution the movable goods of the BHC and of the same to cause to be realized by public auction the sum of two hundred and seventy eight million eight hundred and twenty nine thousand four hundred and seventy six Pula which is recoverable by judgment of court dated 31st August, 2018 plus 1.5 percent penalty interest per month of the above amount effective from 30 days after the assessor ‘s award on June, 2017 to date of payment.
The BHC head of legal services, Elizabeth Galeforolwe refused to comment on the issue unfolding outside her office.
When contacted for a comment, deputy Sheriff Mafika said he has been engaged by Attorney Matlho and has had no further comments to make on the developments of the day.
For his part, C.P.M architects lawyer, Matlho said he has done all he could “to amicably resolve the dispute to avoid this over so many months” but said that his “efforts were all in vain as BHC, BDF and Attorney General were not interested in a peaceful resolution of the matter.”
In 2016 December, C.P.M through their lawyer wrote to the Military adviser, Brigadier Mokuedi Sianang warning him that the matter is a ticking bomb. In their letter they said, “what pains us most is that even the client BDF represented by Lt Colonel Hubona seems not to be bothered. This is a serious expense to the nation more so that the project ought to have resumed the soonest.”
The letter continues, “we have made an endeavor to try to amicably resolve this matter by engaging the BDF, BHC and Ministry of Defense but in vain. Thus said kindly prevail over your institution to have the matter resolved amicably by simply agreeing to either continuation of arbitration.”
Brigadier Sianang however responded that they “have engaged the Attorney General’s chambers for update and resolution of this matter.”
C.P.M architecture was engaged by BHC to carry out partial pre-contract Architectural Consultancy services up to stage 2 for the proposed officers’ training camp/infantry school at Paje in October 1999.
The original scope of work, according to documents before this publication “allowed for three sites and an airstrip within the camp.” The three sites were referred to as college, residential and Pandamatenga.
The original budget for construction was P500 Million. The BDF later abandoned some works from the original scope.
In 2012 the army suspended the entire project and according to sources the reason was due to lack of funds. The situation degenerated when the consultants went for about years without any instruction from the BDF and BHC. In terms of practice clauses, deferment for more than two years is considered termination.
BHC was roped into the project by the government to assist with management. C.P.M say they undertook their obligations in terms of the contract and delivered as expected. In several appeal letters written to the BDF Commander, Attorney General and BHC CEO, only the BDF responded swiftly to the appeal.
In 2016, the Attorney General proposed the engagement of an independent assessor and one was sought from South Africa. However, the BHC and the Attorney General later challenged his verdict in court despite a binding assessment clause dictating that the assessor’s verdict is final and non-reviewable.
Efforts to challenge this in court were unsuccessful as the court ruled against them beginning of September 2018. Justice Tebogo Tau threw out their their reasoning saying “the assessor gave a fair consideration and conducted the proceedings in a proper manner.” She said the BHC and the AG, “have failed to advance grounds upon which the award could be reviewed and set aside.”