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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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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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