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.
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.