Battle over UB’s P45 million catering tender

*Boitekanelo Catering Services Files Suit

*Allegations of P120 000 Bribery Paid to UB-SRC to Riot and Disrupt learning Emerge

Three University of Botswana (UB) Student Representative Council (SRC) members have strongly refuted allegations of receiving a bribery to lead a student uprising at the beginning of the semester this coming August.

Talk has gained momentum in the university corridors alleging that an aggrieved catering company recently caught up in the P45 million tender scandal has paid some student leaders to cause chaos and disrupt learning when the University opens for next semester.

The Voice Newspaper investigations suggest that P 120, 000.00 was paid to some of the UBSRC members (names withheld) by the company (names withheld) in the past few weeks so that these student leaders may instigate and lead an uprising against a competitor (names withheld).

Denying the damning allegations, SRC president, Bokotelo Mmipi said that although they did not receive any bribery to stage any protest against any company, the student body was strongly opposed to Moghul Catering Company continuing its more than 12 -year journey of providing food for students, saying it’s high time they made way for other companies.

“Look here, we get our mandate from the students and they have long called for the suspension of Moghul services because they are not happy. For a change, a different company which is Boitekanelo Catering Services wins the tender and the next thing it is terminated before it even commences, only for Moghul to be given an extension!

Mmipi says should Moghul go ahead and cater for students, they will forcibly remove it from the University premises.

Though the tender was cancelled on allegations that Deputy Vice Chancellor, Students Affairs Professor Lydia Saleshando did not declare her interests as her son, Dr Gagoitsewe Saleshando partly owns Boitekanelo Catering Services together with Dr. Tiro Mampane, Mmipi and his colleagues posit otherwise.

“Saleshando who sat in the Ad hoc evaluations committee declared her interests, which are indirect by the way. She even went on to recuse herself in compliance with section 17 of the UB Act, but the committee advised her not to as they have the powers to do so,” claimed SRC Treasurer, Nolen Bome who sits in the UB Finance committee.

Bome continued to air sentiments that procedure was followed in awarding Boitekanelo the catering tender and further positing that they were surprised to learn that the tender had been terminated without their input.

“The tender was withdrawn on the 11th of May and I received an invitation to the finance meeting on the 16th for the 19th of May meeting. One of the items on the agenda items was the withdrawal of the Boitekanelo tender, which I rose and questioned why it was done without our input, and the Vice Chancellor apologised. We still feel the decision by UB management was improper, irregular and un-procedural. Even worse, they lied saying the finance committee took that decision, yet the decision was taken long before the meeting,” said Bome.

Boitekanelo Catering Services has since through their attorney, Tshiamo Rantao of Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys filed an urgent application before the High Court to challenge the decision to terminate their contract which they argues was not taken by the Finance Committee because it never met.

They further argue that Saleshando complied with the University’s section 17 of Disclosure and Interest.

Moghul through Jones Moitshepi of Ndlovu Moitshephi and Co.

have countered the application.

They further added that Boitekanelo Catering Services is a recent entrant in the food catering industry and were virtually unknown in the industry prior to 2015.

“It therefore does not have the requisite established reputation and experience required by the said tender.”

On the terms and conditions of the tender issued then by the University of Botswana, part 1.1 reads thus, “the University invites tenders from companies and entities with a proven record of catering for the provision of catering services at its main campus for a period of three years”.

Reads part of their argument.

Meanwhile The Voice Newspaper investigations have unerathed documents suggesting that Boitekanelo was awarded the tender before it was legally registered.

The Tender closing date was May 07th 2015 whilst Boitekanelo Catering Company was registered by the Registrar of companies on the March 18th, 2016, a year after the closing date of the tender.

The case was to be heard in court on Thursday June 02 (yesterday)

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