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Choppies Bags Multimillion Pula Old Age Pension Deal

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  • Gov’t spends more than P270 million annually on old age pensions
  • Deal signed during State of Emergency
  • Choppies CEO and President Masisi are business partners
  • Choppies partners with Botswana Post to distribute old age pensions
  • Choppies is the only old age pensions agent

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

During the State of Emergency (SOE), controversial retail giant, Choppies Enterprises Limited Group signed a multi million pula deal with quasi-government institution, Botswana Post, for the distribution of Old Age Pensions, The Botswana Gazette has established.

Minister of Transport and Communications Thulaganyo Segokgo told this publication that he was aware of intent to engage Choppies but was yet to be briefed on the roll-out. Botswana Post also could not respond to this publication’s enquiry before going to press. The Botswana Gazette had asked how Choppies was selected as the sole old age pensions merchant. The inquiry sought to establish if a public tender was put out and also the value of the tender.

Further, this publication wanted to know if it was necessary for the tender to be awarded during the state of emergency.
Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu confirmed that the two companies had agreed on a deal but would not disclose the value of the contract. “I am not obliged to tell you the value of the deal.”

The deal was signed into place on the 1st of June, during the SOE.
According to research done by Socialprotection.org, the government of Botswana paid P279 million in old age pensions in the 2012-2013 financial year, equivalent to some US$ 34 million or roughly 0.2 per cent of Botswana’s GDP. Government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development pays out more than P23 million, monthly. The monthly old age pension allowance is P 530. 00. Botswana Post is the distributor of these funds. It is said that Botswana Post was given the responsibilities to disburse the funds as result of their outreach across the country and never were concerns of lack of capability raised.

The arrival of Choppies certainly means that the Super store will benefit several millions by virtue of being the Botswana Post agents distributing this fund around the country. The deal between the companies came into effect on June 1st.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that the Ministry of Local Government could be in the process of ditching Smart Switch as the administer of the orphans, destitute and community home based care fund. “The Department of Social Protection has been receiving a number of enquiries about the destitute fund. We understand that they are yet credited the money into Smart Switch accounts. There are rumours that the Ministry could take back the tender and who knows, Choppies could be one of their new agents in distributing this fund,” said a source close to these developments. Government through the Department of Social Protection spends more than P40 million monthly on this programme. Botswana has 75 000 beneficiaries registered under this programme.
These developments follow on the backdrop of revelations that President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu are business associates. CIPA records show that Masisi is a 10 percent shareholder in a company called Acree Pty Ltd. Ram is a 90 percent shareholder of the same company. Investigations by this publication unearthed that the company received close to P10 million from Choppies between 2017-2018.

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