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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.