Here Is Why BTC Owes "Born n Raised" Organisers Over P1 Million

Yesterday, sheriffs arrived at the headquarters of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) and attached 19 cars after the company lost a court case against the organisers of the popular music show "Born n Raised". But what caused BTC and Born n Raised's relationship to get so sour to the point where the high court gets involved and BTC's assets are attached by court sheriffs?

According to court documents seen by BW TechZone, BTC and Born n Raised's relationship started on the 15th of October 2019 when the two parties signed a two-year sponsorship for the annual event usually held in Serowe in December. At the signing of the contract, BTC was represented by The Dialogue Group, a media agency. Per the details of the contract, BTC agreed to fork out P250 000 in cash and P18 350 in WiFi services for the event.

In return, Born n Raised was to provide BTC with an extensive marketing presence at the event including the company's logo being placed on promotional merchandise including posters, flyers, etc. Additionally, BTC was to receive 300 standard tickets and 50 VIP tickets among other amenities.

After the 2019 event went smoothly, troubles started when the 2020 event was supposed to be staged under the same sponsorship conditions. 

Born n Raised's Arguments

Born n Raised's claim is that although the COVID pandemic would have made the event not as successful as the previous version because of restrictions on public gatherings, the organisers would have been able to meet obligations to BTC which included 300 standard tickets, 50 VIP tickets and extensive marketing at the event.

To host the Born n Raised event in 2020, the organisers had planned to host 2,000 people at the Serowe stadium and also have fan parks across the country. The event would also have been live-streamed online. However, BTC pulled out its sponsorship two days before the event, a situation which organisers say left them stranded as there wasn't sufficient time to find an alternative sponsor. As a result, Born n Raised was claiming for breach of contractual obligations, loss of income as well as reputational damage.

The Born n Raised organisers sought P250,000 and P18,350 of the sponsorship and WiFi amount promised on the contract as well as P1.5 million in lost income, P1 million in reputational damage and legal costs. This would come to a total of P2,768,350.00.

BTC's Arguments

BTC's first argument is that it had no responsibility to honour the contract because it was signed by The Dialogue Group and not themselves. The other argument was that the Born n Raised organisers did not have requisite permission from the Director of Health Services to host the event at Serowe Stadium. The company also argues that there was not sufficient time to advertise the 2020 show. 

Because of these reasons, it was BTC's view that not only would there be no return on investment for sponsoring the 2020 show but Born n Raised could not provide a sufficient plan on how the sponsorship funds would be used considering the aforementioned handicaps of hosting the 2020 show. However, the company agrees that Born n Raised did not breach any terms of the two parties' October 2019 contract.

In delivering the judgment, Judge Kebonang of the Botswana High Court instantly shot down BTC's argument that it did not have any responsibility to honour the contract because it was signed by an agency. Kebonang explained that because The Dialogue Group was acting on behalf of BTC, BTC was a responsible party to the honouring of the contract. Additionally, he said because BTC had successfully sponsored the 2019 show, it had no legal basis to refute its responsibilities in honouring the obligations of the 2020 show.

The Judgment

Kebonang also shot down BTC's argument that Born n Raised could not provide the 300 standard tickets and 50 VIP tickets and hence would not fulfil the contractual agreement. Explaining this, Kebonang said although the tickets were an expectation, they were not necessarily a pre-condition for BTC to sponsor the event. He cited an example of the 2019 event where BTC disbursed funds two months before receiving the tickets in time for the event. On the argument that Born n Raised organisers had no comprehensive plan to host the 2020 event, the organisers said that the contract did not have this so-called plan being a pre-condition for disbursing funds, a point Kebonang agreed with.

On BTC's argument that COVID-19 restrictions made the 2020 event an impossibility and hence would have no return on investment and that the organisers had not received permission to host the event, Kebonang said that per the health guidelines of then, the organisers did not need permission. Additionally, he said event with restrictions on gatherings, Born n Raised would have been able to provide the expected 300 standard and 50 VIP tickets. Kebonang also said the contract stipulated that the tickets could only be availed after the sponsorship funds had been availed and that by withholding the funds, there was no way Born n Raised could provide the tickets. Kebonang also said that at some point, BTC had shown intention to proceed with the 2020 event.

In the judgement, Kebonang said that BTC withholding the sponsorship was a renunciation of the sponsorship agreement and a refusal to perform its obligations under the contract. He awarded Born n Raised the full P250,000 sponsorship amount and the P18 350 in WiFi connectivity. In the suit for lost income, Kebonang only awarded Born n Raised P840,000 of the requested P1.5 million, arguing that he could only consider the total amount of presold tickets which came to P840,000 and not the tickets which could have been sold to the general public. In the suit for P1 million in reputational damage, the judge referred the claim to the Registar for assessment, which is to be completed in 14 days after the delivery of the judgment.

This means in total, of the requested claim which totalled P2,768,350.00, Born n Raised was given P1,108,350.00. Depending on the assessment of the loss of income claim by the registrar, if the requested P1,000,000 is given, Born n Raised might end up with a total of P2,108,350.00

Image source: Mmegi

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