Botswana should anticipate the proliferation of new superrich oligarchs as a season of privatising state enterprises looks set to continue beyond Air Botswana.
In an all-round futuristic attitude, the Minister for Transport and Communications; Kitso Mokaila, told the press this Thursday that they might consider privatizing Botswana Railways as a way of shaking off loss making parastatals. Mokaila stated that his desire is to see independent parastatals that generate own income instead of gobbling state funds. He mentioned that in communicating to the Botswana Railways board of directors, he advised them to maintain an open minded line towards privatization of the train company.
“When I wrote to the board, I said to them that if it is possible we should privatize Botswana Railways so that we break new grounds and start transporting goods into West, Central and East Africa.” When probed further, Mokaila stated that he cannot say for certain at the moment whether they will privatize BR stating that they intend to conduct a research beforehand.
Mokaila further said that one of the aspects that will ease his ideal of continental trade is the construction of Kazungula Bridge which is both road and rail in kind. He said that his ministry intends to adopt a forward sighted approach “to see if a train will not pass through the wildlife area of Kasane as we export into Central Africa since there are wildlife issues of migration routes.”
He further revealed that when construction is complete, the Kazungula corridor will service 800 vehicles daily as compared to the 200 that are able to flow into and out of Zambia daily. Deputy Permanent Secretary for Transport in Mokaila’s ministry, Isaac Moepeng, also denied that the country’s South-North railway has reached its end life. The rail line has been washed away by rains numerous times in the recent past, derailing and running trains aground. Mokaila revealed that the recent damage to BR resultant of derailed trains cost government a staggering figure of P 8 million.
Moepeng, however revealed that, with Chinese assistance, in 1985 BR overhauled the then 40 kilogram per meter section of the railway to 50 kilogram per meter upraised on concrete sleepers. He further noted that this meant that government can now move more tonnages of goods on the tracks revealing that the railway still has 32 years of life left in it. Moepeng stated that, in fact, BR is underutilising the railway as they move 2 million tons of goods per annum on a railway that has the aptitude to haul up to 4 million tons.
Regarding Air Botswana, Mokaila conceded that the national carrier had been troubled citing among other reasons, the country’s population and unprofitable routes. He also revealed that his ministry has so far received 17 expressions of interest to take up 52% of the national carrier’s stake. He however declined to name the individuals and companies that stepped up only stating that due process is still underway. He further revealed that they have roped in the services of International Air Transport Association (IATA) to assess the 17 expression of interest for viability, “to look for the best model, avoid job losses and come up with a good airline.”
He also said that the dire situation at the carrier is evident as can be seen with the downscaling of aircrafts from formerly 8 to the current 4. Mokaila also acknowledged that the carrier’s pilots are leaving en masse for better prospects elsewhere, stating that: “I am happy when they leave because they get better opportunities.” Moepeng, for his part, revealed that out of the airliner’s 40 pilots, “10 have left and some are still going.”
Some of the state enterprises that were privatized and offloaded in recent memory include Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Water Affairs as well as Bamangwato Concessions Limited (BCL). Air Botswana now joins Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) on the ranks of state companies awaiting privatization while BR could follow soon.
Quantum of Damages
Mokaila, under whose ministry falls the Department of Roads stated that his ministry will compile an assessment of the country’s damaged road network and then make presentations to cabinet. He further stated that the assessment will determine the quantum of the damages which will advise him when he requests funding from cabinet. “There has been road damage after the recent rains while other roads were in a bad state long before the recent rains. Some will need maintenance while some will need rebuilding.”
He further continued to state: “We haven’t measured the cost of damages caused by the rains. After we do that I will go to cabinet to present what I have and how much we need. I will then go to parliament and ask for money because these damages were not budgeted under the NDP 11.” Mokaila also stated that while the Department of Roads has the equipment such as road graders the department seems to be bogged down. He said that to untangle this conundrum, the roads department will look to private contractors to assist them.
“Re bobotlana rele lephata, we have graders but we are not fast,” stated Mokaila. Among some of the shambolic roads he counted include the Mogobane-Lobatse road which he personally inspected, Gaborone-Lobatse road, Francistown-Nata road as well as the Nata-Maun road.
Mokaila also promised to mount a spirited fight against network providers for inflating costs in his ‘national agenda’. “We want to see to it that prices go down. As a national agenda you should decide whether you want to protect big business or you will see to it that you want prices to go down.You shouldn’t be shy about it. You shouldn’t beat about the bush, if we do that we will lag behind. Don’t ask me how,” Mokaila said as he parried off questions from the press.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.