Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane has taken to task the Chinese government for what he termed sloppy work carried out by Chinese owned construction companies when awarded projects by the Botswana government.
The seemingly fed up Tsogwane accused Chinese companies of not only leaving Botswana construction in a mess but also ‘milking’ the country dry as millions of pula paid for the botched projects never get re-invested in the country. Tsogwane was speaking in a meeting with their ideological bedmate, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China. The CCP was in a visit in this country this week to strengthen relations between the two parties and exchange notes on maintaining their grip in power and improving the lives of electorates.
A number of projects were highlighted, including among them the failed multi-billion pula Palapye Glass Project, Morupule B power station and Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. “We should tell you that some of the Chinese companies we give business, usually do shoddy work. At the end of the day we are forced to do maintenance within a short period of time. This costs the government a lot of money,” Tsogwane told the CCP delegation made up of six members this week.
At the meeting, CCP vice Minister, Xu Lyuping stood up to apologize on behalf of the party and his government to Tsogwane. “That should never happen; we will engage them so they understand the trust you have on them. They should also understand the culture of every republic they do business at,” she said.
Still at the meeting, the BDP resolved that the CCP should engage the ambassador of China to Botswana Zhao Yanbo to time and again engage the Chinese business community. Further, the ambassador is expected to also have meetings with various ministers especially that of Investment, Trade and Industry. This is expected to ensure the Chinese business agrees to the terms and conditions that will be set whenever they are given a project.
BDP Secretary General, Mpho Balopi confirmed the developments to this paper albeit in a philosophical way. “When you build a relationship you should work on the things you agree on and that were the main courses of the meeting. But yes the VP was concerned but the continued maintenance of national projects over a short time which ends up being costly to government.”
Tsogwane’s remarks follow other grievances by government officials over Chinese companies. It has always been believed that the response from Chinese construction companies in Botswana in relation to the failed projects was not satisfactory hence the matter needed to be handled at a strategic party level, not government as it has always been the case. It is understood that Botswana believes that the Chinese government is not doing enough to restrain construction companies that are doing shoddy workmanship in the country.
Former President Ian Khama has in the past also launched a scathing attack against Chinese Companies. In an interview with the South Africa’s Business Day three years ago, Khama was quoted as saying, "You know, we have had some bad experiences with Chinese companies in this country. The best way I can put it is that we are very, very particular now; we are going to be looking very carefully at any company that originates from China in providing construction services of any nature."
Projects of serious concern were the two projects that were intended to turn around the country’s economy such as the Morupule B Power Plant project and Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. It is said the projects were intended to be economy drivers through exporting electricity to other countries and boosting the tourism industry respectively.
Apart from this matter which is potent enough to harm the ongoing cordial relations between the two political parties which extends to diplomatic relations they discussed their own affairs. It is said the Chinese party has agreed to assist BDP with resources in the campaign for the 2019 elections.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.