Africa-Press – Botswana. While his goods will be auctioned today (Friday) for a P600,000.00 debt, Koziba Palalani of Third Dimension Consulting is holding on to unpaid invoices amounting to P4,892,994.28 in the names of Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development.
Palalani has written to Attorney General (AG) calling for his intervention. On the other hand, the ministry acknowledges there being outstanding payments, and partly blames the contractor for submitting ‘dishonest claims’.
In his letter to AG, Abraham Keetshabe, Palalani quotes four projects which he said payments for consultancy are still outstanding as far back as 2020. The first is Maitengwe police station project invoice dated December 8, 2020 in the amount of P1,008,466.95. He states that the invoice remains unpaid with no explanation from government.
The second one is Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole invoice stands at P1,556,325.75 dated February 3, 2021. He states that the amount remains unpaid and as not been disputed.
Another is Anti Poaching Unit at Kang invoice dated 12 May 2021 in the amount of P1,315,729.29 which he say has not been disputed but remains unpaid. Yet another invoice for the same project dated June 17, 2021 in the amount of P78,071.24 being interest on late payment of a previous invoice on the project.
The other one is Health Staff Housing at Kgalagadi invoice dated October 30, 2020 in the amount of P455,068.79 being for unexplained short payment on an invoice dated May 9, 2019. In addition, another invoice in amount of P479,332.26 being for interest on the part payment that resulted in the above balance.
“We attempted to appeal to the Office of the President on 3 February 2022 hoping that it could use its higher administrative authority and intervene and press upon the Ministry, however, we were rebuffed on the grounds that we should refer this contractual matter to the courts. However, it is not our desire to litigate against the Government. Our desire is to be paid what we are owed without being compelled to go to courts,” he wrote.
Palalani further states that another reason is because they do not have the financial means to engage in a legal battle due to the fact that the prolonged failure to pay has rendered them unable to service their obligations.
“We are writing to you in your capacity as the Government’s attorney, to request you to advise your client to honor its contractual obligation to pay us. Rather advise it to pay than have to defend it against unnecessary litigation. We hope you will agree with us that mediation is better than litigation, and duly assist.”
When quizzed about the company’s claims, Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi said he could not discuss the matter through the media.
“If any service provider feels hard done there are many avenues to go through including engaging with us at the ministry or going to courts of law to settle the matter. I will not be able to discuss the matter,” he said.
Ramodimoosi said they always strive to facilitate payments timely with their service providers. He said in most cases delays could be caused by the fact that the Ministry is not in agreement with claims made and reconciliations are to be made before payments are done.
In Ramodimoosi’s correspondence with the company dated November 16, 2021, he states that for the Staff houses in Kgalagadi, they noted that they had incorrectly calculated the prolongation and hence made an overpayment of the invoice. He said the amount to be paid was supposed to be P856,870.66 and they paid P1,212,630.46. He said this would also affect the calculation of the interest claimed.
“The Ministry regrets the excessive delay in concluding this long outstanding matter and trusts that the steps that we are currently taking to conclude the payment of all your outstanding claims will bring the matter to a close before the end of December 2021,” Ramodimoosi concluded.
According to briefing notes attached to Ramodimoosi’s correspondence to Third Dimension Consulting, Department of Infrastructure acknowledge receiving the Maitengwe Police Station project. They state that they have since requested the funds from Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) but are still waiting.