Member of Parliament (MP) for Palapye constituency, Moiseraele Goya who is also Assistant Minister of Basic Education has implored Minister of Defence, Justice and Security (MDJS) to rather pilot the billion pula Safer City program in his boom town area of Palapye rather than in Gaborone as planned.
Despite Palapye being a benefactor to multi-millions of Pula in new development funds in the new National Development Plan 11, Goya wants more for his constituency. He complained about all developments starting in the capital, stating: “I want to talk about the Safer City program which will start in Gaborone. I wonder why everything has to start in Gaborone. Why can’t it be piloted in Palapye? This is where I disagree with Mr Kgathi because Safer City has to start in Palapye.”
In his response to Minister Shaw Kgathi’s NDP 11 report tabled in parliament this week, Goya contended that, it would be much easier and faster to monitor the efficacy of the project in a smaller town like Palapye than a bigger city: “you should not be misled by the word ‘city’; this can be piloted in a village like Palapye, in a small environment, not big like Gaborone,” and further probed: “why can’t it start in Palapye so that we see if it works well before it comes to a bigger town like Gaborone? That is the advice I wanted to tender.” Goya stated.
Safer City program is a crime fighting concept that will see Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) paraphernalia mounted on the city streets. The CCTV devices will also be accompanied by rapid response teams of police officers. NDP 11 is a six-year development spending spree period starting from 2017 to 2023. In the half-dozen period, Palapye will share P18 million of funds with Ghanzi for the construction of Legal Aid Service centers. Legal Aid was initially established in NDP 10 as a pilot project by the Attorney General’s Chambers and has since become a statutory entity and a parastatal under the MDJS.
The office of Ombudsman will also be constructed in Palapye in the same development plan. Other developments billed for the central boom town from MDJS include upgrading the Palapye Magistrate Court as well as the establishment of a court case management system called Library Management Services.
In the waning NDP 10, a deluxe bus-terminal was also constructed in Palapye. Another one was constructed in Molepolole. Besides the terminal, a fire station was also constructed in Palapye. Other three areas that received the same facilities are Francistown, Kasane and Mochudi.
An Industrial Court, circuit court which sits frequently conducting week-long sessions was also introduced to the boom town in NDP 10. Furthermore, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also rented offices from the Palapye private sector where they now operate. Palapye has been a destined boom town as far as NDP 9.
It has since surpassed the country’s third and fourth largest cities of Lobatse and Selebi Phikwe, in terms of volume of development. It currently hosts the country’s premier Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Just recently, a Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse accused government of neglecting his town and instead focusing major projects on Parliament which is already a commercial centre. He had stated then, “When expects advised that the second university be built in Phikwe, it was instead taken to Palapye, an already commercial town.”
Palapye also plays host to the miscarried Morupule Power Station as well as the adjacent Morupule Colliery. Its rise from relative obscurity to an important central capital, albeit undeclared, has also not escaped the eye of big business. Majestic Five Hotel, a luxurious 4-star hotel also opened for business in the dusty river village in 2011.
Another state funded Palapye mega-project is the failed Fengyue Glass Plant which was sold for P10 million 5 months ago. Efforts by the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) to sell the Fengyue Glass Plant at a much high value hit a snag as it failed to sell at a P58 million tag price. The highest bidder even failed to pay and the engaged auctioneer, KPMG had to run around searching for the best among under bidders to take over the failed plant’s equipment.
The Glass Project was awarded to Rudy Schuhardt of Makoro Bricks at P10 million after the highest bidders failed to pay. In the first planned auction in 2015 no buyers had shown interest in purchasing the BDC’s Fengyue Glass Manufacturing plant. The plant, was sold after the project went up in smoke amid allegations of corruption and was put under liquidation.
Observers believe BDC found it difficult to attract buyers for the plant because it appears there was no proper feasibility study done before it was started. The Fengyue glass project was expected to create employment for residents of Palapye and surrounding areas.
Amongst the company assets that were up for auction is a float glass plant and equipment. An advert on the sale indicates that the float glass is designed to have a daily melting capacity of 450 tonnes of molten glass and designed in compliance with the China Louyang Float Glass Standards. The majority of the plant and equipment remained in its original packaging.
The plant also boasts of a 100 hectare piece of land close to the centre of Palapye and has a dedicated electricity substation with a railway spur. The Palapye Glass Project was 57 percent owned by China-based Shanghai Glass Manufacturing Company and 43 percent by BDC. At the time of total collapse the project was about 70 percent completed and approximately P410 million was disbursed.
Reports recently emerged that cabinet has also decided to sell the Morupule B project to China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC). The 600 MW Morupule Power Plant has officially failed after spending years faltering. The project went to tender at P7 billon but costs overran to reach P11 billion.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.