One of the main reason the multibillion pula state-of-the-art Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is failing to begin its first phase of operation is because Cabinet has pushed the institution’s envisaged remuneration structure submitted by the board earlier this year under the carpet.
Information before this publication shows that the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), together with SKMTH board, agreed that the quaternary hospital will have to hire experts and therefore remunerate handsomely. The Ministry together with the board then roped in Tsa-Badiri Consultants to draft the Teaching Hospital pay structure which was shoved under the carpet without any reasons advanced to the concerned parties by cabinet.
“The remuneration strategy was presented to cabinet so that it can be adopted. But it was deferred because there were other developments. This institution needs skilled personnel so it is not like the budget was ridiculous or something, we did this in consultation with experts after looking at the market price and other related things,” former Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Alfred Madigele confirmed. It is however not coming out clear as to why cabinet had to defer the pay structure.
Madigele says it was because there were other developments, a reason which according to proponents of the institution does not hold water. “If the remuneration was too much they could have shared, but I doubt it was, because this is a tertiary hospital of which we will have to pay its staff workers handsomely,” says a concerned source who had expected the facility to be operating by now.
Government is however still hopeful that the hospital will attract the best clinical and academic staff in the region, possibly internationally, and will be a destination of choice for clients seeking world class cost effective medical services. The mandate of the hospital when fully functional is threefold: to provide world class medical services at a quaternary level, to work in conjunction with the University of Botswana School of Health Services to provide world class health education, and lastly to act as a hub for health research.
Upon full commissioning, SKMTH is expected to offer broad areas of service like; Critical and Trauma Care, Women and Child Care, Cardiac Care Comprehensive Oncology Care, Nephrology and Transplant Services, Internal Medicine, Surgical Services and Allied Health Services. Weekendpost is reliably informed that another reason why the facility is still not open is lack of technical partners. Initially, SKMTH was to get technical advice from University of Botswana’s medical school but it appears the deal has collapsed.
“The government wants Rutgers University to offer technical advice because they are experience and recently ministry officials toured the hospital in USA to familiarize themselves with the process of a teaching hospital,” disclosed a source. Madigele admitted that while still a Minister, they were still looking for technical advisors but could not confirm if the government has agreed a deal with Rutgers University.
The capital expenditure of the teaching hospital is estimated on the region of P2 billion. Operating costs are still being defined as part of the business plan, but it was estimated at P1 billion a year. Government had wished the hospital would open in March, but after some hiccups in the commissioning process, its grand opening was billed for April this year. New information gleaned from sources say, the facility might open in June next year after all the processes have been satisfied.
“These would include hiring of the staff because for you to be accredited you should have workers in place. These employees will have to look at critical parts of the hospital like radiation control and check if other equipment like X-rays and mammograms, which are at required level. Until all those have been met that hospital will remain a white elephant,” added the informant.
For a long time the government has been sending patients to India and South Africa for average and complicated surgeries. A whopping P 627 504 802, was spent on South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017, while Indian hospitals gobbled P13 million from the Ministry between 2015 and 2017. It was expected that SKMTH will be the panacea but its continued delay will bleed the government wallet.
Cases that have been referred across the borders include Oncology Care, Nephrology and Transplant Services. Reasons to transfer patients to private facilities outside borders ranged from complicated cases, lack of proper equipment and infrastructure in the local hospitals. Both Marina and Nyangabgwe are said to be lacking capacity in the three components to do the work with diligence. Additionally, SKMTH is expected to train and produce international standard healthcare professionals for the entire national healthcare system, and beyond.
The Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road estimated costs stand at P500 million, the tender which was awarded to Bash Carriers in 2017 has not taken shape four years after the project was commissioned.
Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road when it was commissioned, was estimated at P500 million in value, this included construction of 22.50km of the two lane carriage way and 28.70km of access roads including associated bridge works, cross drainage works, storm water drainage works and relocation of services.
When it was first tendered the contract was awarded to Bash Couriers but was terminated after it was alleged that the contractor failed to deliver. It was said that Bash Couriers Construction Company was lagging behind schedule.
This publication visited the sites of Tshesebe-Masunga road last year December and it was evident that the project was at a standstill as deserted machinery on site could be seen with the gravel road also in a devastating state.
Information revealed then indicated that there had been issues of mining rights for aggregates, availability of structural engineers and manpower and a criteria for awarding tender to the specific company when the contract was terminated.
In 2016, as part of the ESP projects, government funded the 25 kilometres (Km) road project to link Tshesebe and Masunga.
Construction of the road, which also connects some of the villages within the district, commenced early in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
The company had done nothing when their contract was terminated with allegations that it never had the capacity to carry out the project in the first place.
The major ESP project had ultimately robbed a lot of people potential employment when it succumbed to termination.
It was then that the government restarted the tendering process.
The project was awarded to Bango Trading Company and Zebra Construction in a joint venture at a value of P319 Million Pula.
However, information reaching this publication from the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirms that indeed there are no current works carried out on the Tshesebe Masunga road.
Responding to a questionnaire sent to them by this publication through their Public Relations Officer Doreen Moapare, the Ministry indicated that the Tshesebe-Masunga road project is before the courts therefore their response is limited by such a pending outcome.
“As a background the project had been awarded to Bash Carriers at a contract sum of P400, 044,365.68 to begin the works in May 2017 and complete the project in January 2019. Scopes of works included 51.2km main road inclusive of seven access roads. Due to non-performance, Bash Carriers contract was terminated on the 25th of September 2018. ”
Further, Moapare indicated that upon termination of Bash Carriers, a process began to ensure that the development project completes.
Five companies went for a selective tendering bid which she listed as; Lobkom Investments (Pty) Ltd, Landmark (Pty) Ltd and Truck Hire (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, ACE /Excavator Hire (Pty) Ltd and Asphalt Botswana (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, Cul De Sac, Bango Trading and Zebra Construction Joint venture.
“Some companies have since queried the results of the tendering adjudication landing the issue in the courts. We are currently awaiting a ruling expected in February/March 2021, and this will determine the course of action thereafter,” concluded Moapare.
At one point last year, reports indicated that Bango Trading Construction Company had faced raiding by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services, with allegations that there was an emerging pattern targeting overscheduled construction companies with powerful political connections.
Bango Trading Managing Director, Moffat James, was reported to have had close links to former DIS Director Isaac Seabelo Kgosi. Bango Trading and Estate Construction Company which has obtained close to P 1, 5 billion government contracts under former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has been the subject of a parliamentary probe due to the many government contracts awarded to them.
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.