For many years government’s procurement system has been viewed by many as a breeding medium for institutionalized corruption as well as an apparatus for looting of public funds by a select few, mostly with certain connections.
Of recent, President Mokgwieetsi Masisi has said – ‘no more’, and vowed to spearhead transformation of government’s procurement system. Government procurement is worth over 14 billion pula annually. This is predominantly administered by Public Procurement & Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) as the body that receives bids, evaluates and allocates tenders. Amongst other goods and services acquired under the government procurement system is infrastructure development, medical and pharmaceutical services.
Bid rigging as well as well as unleveled grounds of competition in doing business with government have also been counted in the list of what is wrong with the system. Masisi, upon ascending to the highest office in the land, highlighted combating corrupt practices within government administration as one of his key deliverables as President of the country.
This Monday, when reviewing his 100 days in office Masisi revealed that his administration was making significant progress in instilling a culture of fair and anticorruption service delivery within the civil employ. The President noted that transformation of the government procurement system was ongoing to create a conducive and enabling environment for every Motswana, regardless of their economic status and political identity an opportunity to do business with government.
President Masisi highlighted that a process was ongoing to restructure government procurement systems in a bid for it to trickle down to the ordinary Batswana. Masisi reiterated that to achieve this, his administration will sponsor and root for relevant legislative frameworks that promote accountability and rule of law. “There cannot be equal opportunities without equality before the law,” he said.
Masisi highlighted that amongst other legislative amendments that he continues to push for was further review of the public procurement and asset disposal act to optimize efficiency and economic impact as well as eliminate loopholes that can act as a window for institutionalized wastage of public funds and national resources.
In a bid to curb political influence and tampering with government bidding and tendering processes, President Masisi underscored that his cabinet ministers will not interfere with public procurement process. “I have directed my public accounting officers to report any Minister who tries to meddle with tenders and asset disposal processes to me because they are not supposed to do so. He added that he will fire any cabinet minister that doesn’t observe this directive.
“We are committed to ensuring calculated and strategic deployment of our national resources in pursuit of broad based multiplied and beneficial effect on the economy and people of Botswana,” he said. Recently the PPADB has been collecting suggestions and stakeholder views towards transforming government goods procurement and assets disposal dealings to improve and realize the much needed efficiency and service delivery in the multibillion pula procurement window. In various forums, transparency and constant evaluations were raised as among the core main values of strategic operations by procurement entities.
The general custodian of public funds, Minister of Finance & Economic development, Kenneth Matambo told procurement stakeholders from Botswana, Mauritius and Kenya at a forum recently that: “I would like to urge procuring entities to take their responsibility and mandate seriously, fast tracked service delivery, openness and diligence should govern the daily proceedings of an economic segment of this magnitude,” said Matambo.
According to Matambo, PPADB handles very sensitive matters that have the potential of crushing the national economy if not handled with utmost professional ethics and etiquettes. “A procuring entity that is well resourced, transparent, evaluates and introspects its procedures and organizational operations from time to time will output a procurement system that inspires public confidence and delivers its government policy objective,” observed Matambo.
PPADB recently has also been making efforts to evolve into ICT and digital means of service delivery. “We have to move into digital procurement systems and we have to capacitate our staff and educate the public about the transformation,” noted then PPADB Executive, Bridget John. John has said the move would reduce issues of vulnerability to corruption and help PPADB to respond to tender queries within a short turnaround time as well as improve public confidence in their service delivery.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.