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China Jiangsu takes PPADB, Attorney General to court

The matter in which the government terminated with immediate effect some major contracts awarded to China Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd and subsequently blacklisted them from doing business with government and quasi-government organisations has this week reached High Court.

China Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd with strong roots in Botswana since 1999 is being accused of engaging in corrupt practices which are deemed national security by Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS). China Jiangsu through its attorneys Monthe Marumo and Company have this week filed before the Gaborone High Court citing Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) as the 1st respondent, Attorney General of Botswana as the 2nd respondent and Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services as the 3rd respondent in the matter.

 According to their draft order dated 14th February 2019, China Jiangsu wants the PPADB’s decision to withdraw the tenders be reviewed. According to Cui Wanglin, the Managing Director of China Jiangsu in his founding affidavit, they seek further to demonstrate that the purported withdrawal of the award is fraught with illegality and mala fides and should be corrected, reviewed and/ or set aside and with costs on a punitive scale.

“I honestly and genuinely believe that there is no dispute to the fact that I have stated in the immediately preceding paragraph it being a matter of public knowledge for which I am advised by Applicant (China Jiangsu)’s attorneys which advice I accept as correct, is not necessary to demonstrate and I beg leave of the court not to annex a copy of the Government Gazette to avoid prolixity,” said the letter.

On the 7th of February 2019 PPADB wrote to Managing Director China Jiangsu International Botswana with reference to the design and building of a water distribution network, sanitation reticulation, telemetry and scada and associated works in Maun PR 10/1/3/16II. The letter suggested that the board at its meeting held on the 7th February 2019 resolved to withdraw award of the above tender from China Jiangsu International Botswana which was made on the 11th October 2018.

“The reasons for withdrawal of award cannot be disclosed as they are classified,” read the letter. The letter was signed by Acting Executive Chairperson Elijah Motshedi. In another letter, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) wrote to the Managing Director of Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd with reference to the termination of major villages’ water supply distribution network rehabilitation for Palapye- Tender no WUC 025 (2014).

“We refer to the above contract awarded to the China Jiangsu International Botswana (Pty) Ltd as per the Notification of Award sent to the Company under cover of the Corporation’s letter dated 4th March 2015,” stated the letter. WUC invoked sub- clause 15.5 of the contract which empowers the corporation to terminate the contract it has with Jiangsu International Botswana.

Jiangus was instructed to, “immediately cease work on the Contract and commence removing the Contractor’s equipment in terms of sub- clause 16.3 of the General Conditions of Contract.”“You will be entitled to payment under provisions of sub- clause 19. 6 (a) to (e), and in this regard you are to keep proper records of all Costs incurred as contemplated by sub- clause 19. 6 (a) to (e),” said the termination letter.

“Please note that this decision is final, and no discussions or correspondence will be entered into regarding the decision to terminate nor the reasons for the termination.”  The tender which was awarded on the 25th September 2018 with a project duration of 42 months from the commencement date was valued at P 875, 923, 178. 85.

They were required to provide a performance bond of 10 percent of the contract amount which is (10 percent of P 875, 923, 178.85) P 87, 592, 317. 88 entered into with an approved Botswana Registered banking institution within 28 days calculated from the date of the Letter of Acceptance. The tender was awarded to China Jiangsu International (Pty) Ltd JV together with Unik Construction Engineering.  

On Wednesday 13th February 2019, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security issued a communique where they advised all quasi-government institutions under the ministry not to engage China Jiangsu International in any of their organisations’ activities or projects as they have been found to have been involved in massive corrupt activities.

The letter which was signed by Permanent Secretary Cornelius Dekop was addressed to; Debswana Diamond Company, Okavango Diamond Company, Diamond Trading Company, Botswana Oil Limited, Botswana Power Corporation, Botswana Geo- Science Institute, Botswana Regulatory Authority, Minerals Development Company Botswana, and Morupule Coal Mine. It is reported that the intelligence organ, was involved in the operation which exposed China Jiangsu.

 When contacted for comment Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi said they are lot of investigations concerning the matter of China Jiangsu International on corruption allegations and investigations are still ongoing.  Magosi said he could not disclose the names of those implicated as that will jeopardise the investigations but promised that he will do so when the time permits.

The Director General could not confirm whether the Chinese State company poses any issues of national security or not saying they are still investigating the matter. Meanwhile Morupisi told this publication that he does not know anything about Red East Construction (Pty) Ltd which he is alleged to have relations with.

“As far as I know, the China Jiangsu International Botswana matter has not reached my office and I don’t know anything about it. The issue concerning the Ministry of Minerals can be addressed to Permanent Secretary Cornelius Dekop, he authored that letter,” said Morupisi who cut the interview very short. Cui Wanglin said China Jiangsu should have been given an opportunity to defend itself against allegations of any nature before an adverse decision could be taken affecting as it does applicant’s rights to its awarded bid.

 He said China Jiangsu has therefore been denied due process of the law and an adverse decision made affecting applicant’s rights without affording it a hearing of any nature whatsoever. “For that reason once more, I honestly and genuinely and believe that the decision of the 1st respondent purporting to reverse an ward bid to applicant ought to be reviewed, correct and set aside”. 

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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