BURS consultant under DCEC radar?

Africa Tax Academy was directly appointed for P7m tender and alleged investigations raise concerns about the due diligence and vetting process

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

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The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service have allegedly turned their attention to the appointment of former South African Revenue Services (SARS) Chief Operations Officer Jonas Makwakwa as a consultant at Botswana Revenue Service (BURS), The Botswana Gazette has established.

Makwakwa, through his company Africa Tax Academy, was directly appointed to the consulting job with BURS’s Department of Large Tax Audit in February 2022 a few months following the appointment of Jeanette Makgolo as Commissioner General.

 

Active cases
Investigating sources say DCEC and DISS have received reports alleging that certain procedures may have been overlooked in the appointment of the company.
Sources claim that the investigating agencies are not convinced that Africa Tax Academy was the best fit for the job both locally or internationally. The company’s contract with BURS is due to expire at the end of February 2023 but indications are that it will be renewed.

The total cost of the contract is believed to be just over P7 million.

 

Wide range of allegations
DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi has confirmed that they received some reports on a wide range of allegations against BURS.
However, he was constrained to elaborate citing that the matter borders on operational issues. On the other hand, BURS’s head of communications, Mable Bolele, says the organisation is not aware of the investigations.

Makwakwa has also said that he has no knowledge of any investigations into him or his company and confirmed that he forms part of the Commissioner General’s advisory team.
“We are not aware of any investigations of our company by any law enforcement agency in Botswana or any other country,” he said in written response. “Our Managing Director (Mr Makwakwa) was investigated while still at SARS and was cleared of any wrongdoing.”
Although he has never been charged for any wrongdoing, a Google search on Jonas Makwakwa pops up dozens of allegations of corruption and money laundering against him during his time with SARS. He resigned from his position as Chief Officer, Business and Individual Tax (BAIT) at SARS just before he could be suspended from his position for the second time in 2018.

 

Tainted reputation
In April 2022, the MP for Molepolole North, Oabile Regoeng, enquired of the Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, to explain why the local tax authority would engage the services of a figure with such a tainted reputation.

In response, the minister said they were aware of the allegations and that since Makwakwa was never charged and considering his experience, he was the right man for the job.