- DCEC head says the law does not recognise the power of external influence
- Ombudsman decries culture of indifference
Another multi-million Pula tender awarded to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s sister, Boitumelo Phadi Mmutle has thrust the siblings’ relationship back in the spotlight, reigniting concerns that President Masisi continues to use his position to tilt the scales in favour of his sister who has been on a tender ‘winning streak’ since she emerged from relative obscurity two years ago.
In 2020, her company Monteco Solutions (Pty) Ltd was awarded a contract worth P13,747,360 without a competitive bidding to supply antiretrovirals to the government through direct appointment by the government. Fellow competitors in the pharmaceutical industry protested the awarding of the tender, claiming possible conflict of interest and possible nepotism. Amongst the complainants was pharmaceutical company Africure, who lodged a formal complaint with the Director of Central Medical Stores.
Revelations of the tender and its irregularities sparked public outcry including Leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando tabling it in parliament for debate. President Masisi who was present in Parliament did not respond to any of the accusations. In a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Phandu Skelemani, dated May 4, 2020, Saleshando alleged that, “the company Monteco Solutions was not successful when the tender was floated for a competitive bid. They appealed the decision and their appeal was dismissed, as reported on the PPADB website.” The letter was also copied to DCEC director, Tymon Katlholo.
Hardly a year later, Monteco Solutions won a share of another tender worth P238 million to supply the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH) with medical equipment.
In the most recent controversy, G & M Building Services Property Limited, in which Masisi’s sister is a shareholder, has been awarded a P550 million tender in partnership with a Chinese company by Water Utilities Corporations (WUC). The tender is for the construction of Goodhope Sub-District Water Supply Scheme Phase 2.
CEO of Water Utilities Corporation, Gaselemogwe Senai, has confirmed the awarding of the tender, but declined to comment on the details saying, “The tender was inherited from the government, complete with consultants. I do not understand the public outcry about the President’s sister’s company being a beneficiary. It is a company like any other local company and is entitled to compete with others,” Senai said.
When questioned on the continued allegations of nepotism, head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo, says while nepotism is categorised as favour under the DCEC Act and can be investigated, the power of external influence on internal processes, if not proved, may not necessarily trigger an investigation. “Section 23 emphasises on direct involvement or influence within the internal processes. I do not think a strong case can be made solely on the question of someone’s influential power in the broader set up.”
Ombudsman Augustine Makgonatsotlhe whose organization exists to promote administrative justice by investigating allegations of maladministration within the public sector, said where reasonable suspicions of maladministration, nepotism or favour arise, the public should make an effort to report such for investigation or assessment.“The greatest challenge to this country is that our people have developed a culture of just complaining by themselves and among themselves,” Makgonatsotlhe said. “This attitude is bad for our country and should be discouraged because it will not take us anywhere.”
He however admitted that complainants are also discouraged by weak laws meant to protect whistleblowers.
Boitumelo Phadi Mmutle ignored this publication’s request for comment on the matter.