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Sadique, Tlhalerwa to answer for Energy ministry debts

Publishing Date : 23 April, 2018

Author : TEBOGO KGALEMANG

Former minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security; Sadique Kebonang and former President Ian Khama’s right hand man, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa have been subpoenaed to appear before High Court Judge Terrence Rannowane on June 5, in connection with the ministry’s debts.


The duo will testify on behalf of Oleaster (PTY) Ltd Director, Thembile Mhlauli who has dragged Kebonang’s former ministry before court demanding payment in the sum of P9 million for the construction of bulk strategic petroleum oil storages in Tshele Hills in 2016.


Oleaster’s case is that last year, the cabinet issued an instruction and Kebonang instructed that the case be removed from court and be settled amicably by paying him. Kebonang is said to have instructed that Oleaster be paid the amount owed in terms of their claim. “An acknowledgement to be paid was made by the cabinet instruction as well as the instruction of the Kebonang that the matter be settled out of court and that payment be made to us,” stated Oleaster in its court papers.


On March 8, 2018, Justice Rannowane made an order directing the parties to meet to explore possibility of an amicable settlement of the matter. “The Attorney General shall facilitate the attendance of all relevant personnel in order to have comprehensive settlement talks, especially the Minister Advocate Sadique Kebonang, the Permanent Secretary Dr. Obakeng, the Senior Private Secretary to the President Brigadier General Tlhalerwa, a senior representative of the Attorney General’s as well as the applicant’s representative,” ruled Rannowane who further stated that in the event negotiations collapse, the matter should be brought back before him.


Two weeks later, Oleaster Company wrote to the Attorney General threatening to take the matter back to the High Court as they were not interested in holding the meeting. “We note for your attention that the purpose of the said meeting was to assist the court in attaining a proper appreciation of the difficulty faced by the court especially paying attention to the averments made against and in relation to those therein mentioned high ranking officials who do not wish to be perceived as acting against government,” stated attorney David Moloise on behalf Oleaster.


“We do further reiterate that should this matter be taken to trial we shall subpoena those parties mentioned in the order together with all the pertinent Parliamentary Hansard as well as those other prominent members of the Cabinet who were present at the said deliberations, of which His Honour the Vice President was the chair, according to the minister’s advise before the Office of the President. We hold instructions to revert back to the high court with an urgent contempt application.”


It was then that, this week, Oleaster took the matter back to court and subpoenaed the witnesses. The background of the matter is that in April 2016, Oleaster entered into a sub-contract with a company known as BOWMAG Construction which was the main contractor. Oleaster relied on clause 6.6 of the said Sub-contract that it shall have the right to be paid directly by the employer. The sub-contractor commenced the work in full knowledge that the employer would make payment.


It is the sub-contractor’s averments that they used their own finances to push the project knowing that the government is usually slow in making payment and that payment would be made at any time. It is said that during November 2016, termination of the main contractor was done where immediately the sub-contractor began the process of seeking direct payment from the employer in terms of clause 4.4 (d) as read with 6.6 of the sub-contract. The court also heard that the sub-contractor was never paid but instead received excuse after excuse.


Minister Kebonang was subsequently approached whereupon he advised that it was in the interest of all parties that the matter be resolved as amicably as possible and with a view to avoiding legal action. Negotiations began whereupon senior government officials were involved from different ministries to the Office of the President.


It is said that Kebonang had stated that it was in the interest of completing the project that the sub-contractor be paid and the ministry proceed to appoint a new contractor to complete what was remaining at site. Vice-President Masisi also took the matter before the cabinet where it was agreed that the sub-contractor be paid for the work already done. However, the sub-contractor was never paid.


On March 7, 2018, Kebonang’s ministry wrote to the Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services, Isaac Kgosi asking him to furnish them with a date as to when he will pay back the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) loot to help them (ministry) settle creditors.


In the savingram, Kebonang’s ministry wrote, “We refer to communication between us and Director General, Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) relating to the question of refunding the NPF by DIS. The ministry is under tremendous pressure to settle several creditors, some of whom have gone to court in relation to Tshele Construction.


The Attorney General has since advised that there is a court order that requires the parties to meet and report to the court on or before Thursday 8 March, 2018.” “We will be grateful as to when the repayment by DIS would be credited to NPF. This will help us communicate definitive position with our creditors,” the Savingram further read. 

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