CoA rules against BDF, BHC in P250M suit

  • BDF to pay debt after a long court battle
  • Client smiles all the way to the bank


The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Botswana Housing Cooperation (BHC) have commenced payment of P250 million, in compliance with a recent Court of Appeal order after they had initially refused to pay CPM architects- a consultancy company engaged by BHC for the construction of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) training school in Paje.

The dispute between BDF/BHC and CPM arose in relation to the P1.5 billion Paje military school project that never was. The Paje project was suspended in 2012 and gave rise to various legal disputes which have culminated with BHC and the BDF being sanctioned by the Court after they refused to pay CPM architects.

BHC and BDF had refused to pay CPM over a debt for services rendered prior to the contract cancellation and attracted the wrath of the court when Lobatse High Court Judge, Justice Tebogo Tau labeled governments appeal as “frivolous and meant to gain time or harass -CPM architects.”

Dissatisfied with the High Court Judgment BHC and the BDF launched an urgent appeal, following the attachment of BHC assets. The Court of Appeal at its last session agreed with Justice Tau and ruled that the duo must pay the 250 million debt. CPM lawyer Patrick Matlho confirmed to this publication that “the BDF is complying with the court order and has already started making payments to his clients.”

Matlho had at the height of the dispute attached the BHC movable property including vehicles of the CEO Reginald Motswaiso and his deputies Pascaline Sefawe and Nkaelang Matenge in accordance with a Writ of Execution issued on 25 September 2018.
The military contract under spotlight was for the construction of a training facility in Paje but no structure currently exists at the plot and the military has suspended the project following the depletion of project funds . The BDF declined to answer this publication’s questions in relation to the project and on the way forward, two months ago, saying the matter was still before the court.

BHC and BDF had opposed an Award given in favour of the client following an Arbitrator’s engagement. The Arbitrator had directed that BHC pay P163,590,753,70; payment of interest claimed (10 percent surcharge and 1.5 percent interest);P115,238,758,22, payment of the total due (as final at 2008) in the sum of P278,829,476,92; within 30 calendar days from the date of the award, together with payment of 1.5 percent interest on the total payable reckoned from August 2014 to the date of payment as well as the costs of the assessment.

In 2012, CPM was instructed to submit their outstanding claim after completing stage four of the works and a claim of P163, 590, 753, 70 was submitted but was never paid for as the dispute arose between the parties as to the claim. The claim by CPM ballooned as a result due to the conditions of the contract, where termination, suspension or deferment of the project, where not directly attributable to CPM, would incur a surcharge of 10 percent of the total fee to be applied.

The contract further provided a term that any late payment would attract a monthly penalty interest of 1.5 percent on all outstanding fees inclusive of the charges. The matter was before Justice Ian Kirby, Justice Stephen Gaongalelwe and Justice Brand.