The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila has announced this week that Water Quality Monitoring Equipment Project Budget has increased from USD$ 1. 2 million to USD$ 3. 4 million.
Mzwinila said this when briefing stakeholders on the progress and status of Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) in Gaborone. Minister Mzwinila noted that there is a re- tendering for this project which was further delayed due to the unavailability of World Banks STEP system. Mzwinila said BEWSE project has three components: (1) improve availability of water supply and efficiency of services, (2) improve wastewater and sludge management, and (3) sector reform and institutional strengthening.
The first component of Water Supply projects, the Minister said, is currently 10 of 12 projects that are still in the procurement for Design Review or Design and Build/Design, Supply and Install phase with six of these in the evaluation stage- North East, Boteti, Mosu, Malwelwe, Mathethe, and Francistown. Minister Mzwinila explained that the safeguards are delaying the procurement process for three projects- Selibe Phikwe, Kuke and Bere. These are the environmental and social impact analysis issues.
According to Mzwinila the second component of Waste and Sludge Management entails rehabilitation or refurbishment of three wastewater treatment plants; Mambo, Letlhakane and Lobatse. Mambo project is half way through the feasibility phase, while Letlhakane feasibility has now commenced and Lobatse has awarded the contract and feasibility will commence in February 2020.
In the third component, which is Institutional Strengthening and Capacity building, six (6) studies have signed contracts and started implementation. These are development of raw water abstraction and pricing strategy; development of water conservation and demand management strategy; study on the demarcation of catchment areas; saline groundwater options study; study on the management of aquifer recharge (design and options) and non-site-specific equipment- ground and surface water monitoring equipment.
The Minister further explained that three (3) studies are already at Expression of Interest (EOI) evaluation stage. These are detailed assessment and prioritization plans for long term water security; revision of Water Act and related pieces of legislation and establishment of independent water regulator and development of national sanitation strategy.
Two (2) studies are already at TOR level and have been submitted to WBG. These are development of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) framework for water and sanitation projects and amendment of the national and wastewater policy. Three (3) study projects are still at conceptualization and development of the TOR. The progress for the projects is as follows;
Purchasing and installation of site- specific equipment- surface water and groundwater is planned to be synchronized with the development of the Total Water Management System (TWMS). The feasibility study for TWMS is completed while negotiations with K- Water is ongoing on how to carry out the synchronization. The Minister also confirmed that the development of TOR for drought preparedness and management plan, and the long term national water security strategy is ongoing to be completed by March 2020.
According to Mzwinila, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) currently has eight (8) projects currently under this component. “Progress is still slow. Notable progress was recorded in only two (2) projects; the Non-Revenue Water Reduction Program and Development of a Water Supply and Sanitation Design Manual projects. The progress for the projects is as follows;
Non- Revenue Water Reduction Program is in two Phases. Phase 1: Assessment of Non-Revenue Water Status at different Management Centres is completed. Phase 2: Implementation of Recommendations of Phase 1 is at procurement stage (Procurement of Consultancy for Technical and Commercial Advisory Support; Procurement of Goods Procurement of Works to await appointment of Consultant)
Implementation of Meter Reading and Billing system improvements as per the recommendations of the NRW Strategy Report. Project will await the appointment of NRW Consultant to provide input into the Draft TORs. Development of a Water Supply and Sanitation Design Manual is at procurement stage. The closing of the EOI advert was on 09th January 2020. The project will then move to issuing of Request for Bid.
Mzwinila also submitted that Water Quality Monitoring Equipment project budget has increased from USD$ 1. 2 million to USD$ 3. 4 million. Furthermore there is a re-tendering for this project. Re-tendering process was further delayed due to the unavailability of World Banks STEP system.
Review and implementation of energy reduction strategy; progress to date; Project scope revised at component 3 Projects Meeting on 17th July 2019, to focus on review and implementation of energy reduction strategy. SMEC Audit report has been shared with WB for review and WB to advise this is adequate.
“One (1) project has been added under WUC component 3: Groundwater Monitoring for selected well fields. Draft TORs prepared and under WUC Peer Review. Two (2) projects have been put on hold and will resume after completion of Itemogo Project (WUC Restructuring) are Development of WSS Capital Investment Book and Support for Implementation of Institutional Strengthening”.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.