Unscrupulous business men are exploiting the gullible people by selling tap water at high prices to the general public in the Southern District a disastrous move that cuts across the whole country – due to the ongoing water crisis.
The water supply deficiency in Botswana has therefore led to some dubious individuals, both legally and in some instances illegally, buying water at the corporation and later re-selling to innocent citizens at exorbitant prices. This notwithstanding that tap water is an essential human right matter and therefore that governments across the world including Botswana have an obligation to make it available to all citizens particularly the underprivileged.
However Botswana continues to face acute shortage of water supply in many areas despite all efforts by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) to make the water available to all and sundry. Weekend Post investigations have revealed that some truck drivers carrying big water tanks are capitalising on the scarcity of water in the Southern part of the country and cashing approximately P60 000 in profits monthly.
“There is generally no water supply in Kanye. The taps are dry. Some people now abuse us. They put those big water tanks in their trucks to buy at WUC at cheap prices then re-sell this water to the desperate community of Kanye. This situation continuously remains a concern to the public,” an irate elderly who preferred not to be mentioned also confirmed. This publication has followed around 20 different trucks in a day coming back and forth around 10 times to fetch the WUC low-priced water continuously at the corporation.
The trucks, 5 tonnes to 7 tonnes, are strong enough to carry water tanks (Jojo’s) holding a capacity of 1000 litres to 5 000 litres or more. Weekend Post has turned up information that while WUC sells the 1000 litres (1 cubic litres) full of water at a paltry P39.20, they then go on to sell 2500 litres at a whopping P 300 per tank. P 2500 litres would cost rarely P100.
Indications suggest that in essence they make a profit of more than P200 every P2500 litres of water tank. They fetch the water 10 times, where they are always lined up in their numbers, making a daily profits of P2000. In an average one month, one truck can wallop close to P60 000 in water profits. The truck water drivers are also not regulated as they can sell at their own prices which might be heftier than the known charge.
“So we end up buying this water although we do have taps at homes. The water crisis is taking a toll on us. WUC does not even frequently and timely attend to leaking pipes and this happens while at home there is no water supply,” another village elder told Weekend Post. It is understood that WUC has justified the development citing that the truck water entrepreneurs reason that they have been assigned by the community to fetch them the water and in return attracting a fee to assist fuel their cars.
The fuel fee however has not been stipulated as some believe the P200 per truck per trip is too much as the trucks are just local. The selling of water to the public has been going on since 2009 when the water crisis took its toll in the country. This happens notwithstanding that lack of access to water is seen as a life and death predicament.
Meanwhile the United Nations General Assembly has, on 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292 explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. When contacted for a comment, Kanye WUC General Manager Ditiro Mogotlhwane confirmed to Weekend Post that indeed they do sell water to some truck drivers at very low prices but not aware if they re-sell it at inflated prices.
He stated: “a once off ration to a maximum of 10000 litres at a rate of P39.95/1000 litres is sold to individuals who cannot get water in their areas and customers who require large water quantities. Truck drivers are engaged by individuals who buy water from WUC bulk filling points.” The General Manager justified that water supply has been challenging for Kanye and Moshupa Villages and has been deteriorating overtime following years of drought and borehole yield decline/drying up.
He highlighted that the current abstraction averages around 7900m3/day against a combined demand of 15000m3 per day and therefore this translates to a supply deficit of approximately 7000m3/day. The situation, he added that has been worsened in the recent months by frequent power and equipment failure resulting in prolonged water shortage and slow recovery on the distribution network. Other villages around Kanye, he said are also affected by inadequate water supply and are largely sustained by the Corporation bowsers.
Mogotlhwane emphasized that management centre does not have capacity to bowser water to individual or business premises and as such individuals who cannot get water in their areas are therefore allowed to buy water to meet their needs and make own arrangements to fetch the water. On the lucrative reselling of water the WUC head honcho said WUC is not aware of the water resale activity from its sources. “It should be noted that WUC does not knowingly sell water to people who resell it. The reselling of water if any is done behind WUC’s back.”
According to the General Manager, water bowsing is employed where the Corporation has placed potable tanks (JoJos) in strategic places within the village, bowsing to public institutions (schools, hospitals and offices) and other places which keep emanating due to the continuous challenges where our bowser would stop at a station for customers to fetch water, an inefficient exercise considering the number of bowsing points.
Kanye alone, Mogotlhwane pointed out that, has more than 50 points to service excluding surrounding villages adding that the management center has also been out-sourcing bowsing, where some of the outsourced bowsers or trucks with Jojos may be mistaken as private sellers.On what WUC is doing to address the water situation, the Corporation boss stated that “the Kanye Mmamashia North South Carrier (NSC) connection is underway and expected to complete by July 2019 as a sustainable solution to Kanye water situation.”
Currently, he further observed that four boreholes have been drilled, equipped and interconnected around Dilokwana and Gasegogwane areas and that three are currently operational and yielding approximately 1700m3/day which splits between the two villages. He said the project was commissioned in December 2018 when WUC had operational challenges due to frequent power failures.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.
Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.
SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).
In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.
In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.
“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said. “The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”
SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements. In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.
“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.
He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide. He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.
“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.
He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.
A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.
The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages. The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.
Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.