The cost of using Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) services will go up by November this year as the Town Council last week adopted the proposed fee increases for various services that the Local Authority provides to the public.
Presented by the Chairperson of Finance and General Purposes Committee, Councillor Moses Serite, the Cost Reduction Strategy Review Report which outlined fee hikes for various services and introduced fees for services previously not charged, councillors adopted the report without a single dissenter.
The report records that the SPTC has proposed to review cost reduction strategies in place “due to the fact that it has been offering certain services and it has emerged that most of them were either undercharged for services charged or not charged at all.” It further notes that the review of the strategies is “so as to bridge the imbalance between running expenses and income generated.”
It further states that “some costs have been introduced due to the fact that too much effort and resources are used in order for the council to render services like site visits, inspections before and after developments, and this automatically includes maintenance and operational costs including sitting allowances that committees attract by sitting for decisions to be made.”
The council have adjusted upwards most of its fees and service charges at a times where businesses are struggling to stay afloat in a town still reeling from the economic shock that saw some businesses close shop following the closure of BCL mine in October 2016. The Town Clerk has been given the authority to make a waiver where necessary. All cost changes are effective on November 01, 2018.
Several services have been seen cost increases of over 100%. The stadium which has been charging P3, 500.00 for local festivals have been hiked to P10, 000.00, representing a 186% increase. International pastors and other international festivals who have been paying P7, 000.00 will from November have to fork out P15, 000.00, the reports reveals.
Fees have also been increased for Advertising and Hoarding Signs with perusal fee being increased from P12.00 to P200.00.The Advertisement Levy per year for Super Billboards and Custom Billboards have been increased from P1, 500.00 to P1, 800.00 while for Electronic Billboards, the levy has increased from P2, 000.00 to P2, 500.00. Advertising on Street Light poles, Refuse bins and Bus Shelter moves up from P300.00 to P700.00.
Fees for using Council facilities like Civic Centre, Community Hall, Show Ground and Recreation Centre have also been revised upwards. Several fees have been upped by 25% (P200 to P2500) except for hosting of festivals from P500.00 to P3, 000.00 at the Civic Centre. The highest charge for hosting an event at the Community Hall and Recreation Centre is P1, 000.00 per day for an all-night prayer and church conferences. The charge for hosting Church Conference has moved from P350.00 to P1, 000.00. According to the report, Charitable Organisations which have not been paying for utilising council halls will now have to pay a 50% subsidised fee for all their activities.
The report indicates that the charges “are influenced by the cost of managing the facilities like preparing for leases, legal costs for non-compliant lessees, security of facilities, insurance incurred by the Council among other reasons especially for activities of high income returns, high risk activities and fees required for maintenance, cleaning, power and water consumption.”
According to the report, recreation spaces like children play area moves up from P1, 500.00 per day to P2, 000.00 to cater for damages that might occur. It indicates that some of the damages has been exceeding the money generated. Grave excavation costs have also gone up. The reports records that grave excavation costs are “too high due to high fuel consumption during excavation.” Graves for children will now cost P75.00 from P30 for citizens while it will cost foreigners P100 from the previous charge of P30. The grave for an adult will cost P150.00 from P95.00 for citizens while for foreigners, the cost moves up from P95.00 to P200.00.
For the Show Ground, one will need to pay up to P5,000.00 per day to host a music festival which feature international artistes while other uses will be charged P250.00 hourly. Again, Charitable Organisations and Government Schools will be subsidised by 50% for all their activities. Under Environmental Health, charges have also been hiked. Abattoir charges have moved up from P50.00 to P100.00 plus P30.00 slaughter levy per head of cattle, making the total charge for slaughtering a cow P130.00 per beast.
For goats and sheep, it has moved up from P12.00 to P30.00 per goat or sheep while slaughtering a pig will attract a charge of P50.00 from the previous charge of P20.00. Cold Storage costs moves from P25.00 to P50.00 per animal day. The Report explains the charges are meant “to bridge the imbalance between abattoir running expenses and the income generated from providing the service.”
Hiring of classroom has seen a 100% increase from P300.00 per night to P600.00.Booking a classroom for a meeting will cost P100.00 per an hour. It was previously charged P25.00 hourly. Hiring of a pot also moves from P25.00 to P100.00. According to the report, the justification for an increment on these items is because “a lot of expenses are incurred in paying for utilities and maintenance of schools.” The report also says that Selebi Phikwe is a town with accommodation facilities in place for use.
Under Civil and Mechanical, reinstatement of roads moves form P775.00 per an hour to P900.00. The report says this is due to an increase in maintenance costs and payment of employees. Equipment hire has also increased by 22% for both Front End Loader and small TLB (Backhoe Loader). The bigger TLB, Grader and Roller has seen an increase of 20%, 15% and 33% respectively. The hikes according to the report are meant to “augment for the repair costs and payment of officers which increase overtime.”
New fees Introduced
Tables, chairs, plants and florist services which were previously not charged for will now carry a charge. Table and chair hire will cost P10.00 and P2.00 respectively while hire for plants and florist services will cost P20.00 and P800.00 respectively. Other new fees include among others charging P1, 000.00 per day for use of open space by industrial or commercial entities while Non-Governmental Organisations will pay P370.00 for the same. Driving Schools will have to pay P250.00 monthly while celebrations and churches will pay P300.00.
The Council will now sell some documents which it has been previously issuing out for free. A 1.5, 2.5 and three roomed house plan will cost P100.00, P150.00, and P200.00 respectively. Maps in various sizes will also be on sale at P20.00 (A4), P30.00 (A3), P40.00 (A2), and P50.00 (A1).
Under Physical Planning, Housing and Estate Management, perusal fees for planning permission and application fees have been introduced. Low Income Residential (SHAA) will cost P500.00 while other non SHAA residential will be charged P750.00. A P1, 000.00 will be charged for non-residential plans like commercial industrial, civic and others. However, there has been no increase for domestic waste collection for both industrial and residential, Skip Hire, incineration and clinical waste collection and disposal.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.