Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schwarzfische has explained government’s decision to give priority to Chinese state owned company China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) in the purchasing of the troubled Morupule B plant.
While open tendering process is usually perceived as the best method to adopt in public procurement, government instead chose the selective tendering process in their decision to sell the Morupule B plant. The selective tendering process limits the number of companies which participate in the tendering process.
The newly appointed German national said the decision was taken mainly as mitigation against risks which may arise as a result of the complexity of the project, as well as consideration to issues which surrounded the plant. “Other buyers do not know the plant as much as CNEEC,” he said this week, adding that: “there are risks that come with a project of that nature and they wanted to lessen those risks.”
Schwarzfische revealed that government is expecting a firm offer from CNEEC in the next four weeks. The process of negotiations is expected to drag until the end of year and announcement on the outcome of the negotiations to be made in the first quarter of January 2018, the BPC boss revealed. He further indicated that if the negotiations between government and CNEEC are not successful, government will resort to other options through conducting another bidding process.
“There are certain things we cannot reveal now because we do not want to jeopardise the confidentiality of another partner but if the negotiations fail we will put the sale of Morupule B on tender again,” he explained. It is expected that Morupule B will take at least four years for it to be fully functional as all the four units will go through a testing period of 12 months each.
Morupule B, which was commissioned in 2008 was expected to be fully functional in 2012. As per the agreement of government and contractors Morupule B Power station was supposed to be completed on the following date; 15th January 2012, 15th April 2012, 15th July 2012 and 15th October 2012 for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4 respectively. However the taking over was completed in May 2014 due to delays. Morupule B was funded by World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) to the tune of P11 billion becoming the most expensive single project that government has undertaken since independence.
In an unexpected move, in 2016, then Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila informed parliament about government’s decision to sell Morupule B after liability period. The 24 month liability period which was scheduled to end in June 2016 was extended for the contractor to make good on the outstanding defects, some of which were impacting on the reliability or availability of the power plant, according to government. The decision to sell Morupule B attracted criticism from various quarters, with Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko vehemently opposing the idea of selling such a valuable government asset.
The sale of Morupule B was also opposed by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which has threatened a lawsuit against government; federation of public sector unions, BOFEPUSU was also opposed to the sale. BOFEPUSU believes the sale of Morupule B to CNEEC will present a security threat for the country. The decision to sell Morupule B was followed by approval private sector participation in the energy sector, and also to establish the regulator by parliament.
This week in a press conference the Minister of Mineral Resource, Energy Security and Green Technology Sadique Kebonang addressed members of the press with the intention of creating conversation with regard to issues surrounding his ministry. Kebonang replaced Mokaila in the ministry following the re-designation of ministries and cabinet reshuffle. The water department has since been moved to Ministry of Lands, Water and Sanitation.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”