The Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila could find himself between a rock and a hard place as he is likely to make a decision on whether he takes up a proposed Water sector ministry or he shafts himself to the back bench.
Early indications are that the hard working minister is not a fan of the proposed breakaway Ministry because of its plethora of problems with the compounding nag being lack of financial resources.
With President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle soon after the adoption of proposed names of two additional Members of Parliament, Mokaila’s current Ministry is expected to be one of the major catalysts in the reshuffle as it will be split.
According to information gathered by this publication Mokaila is not interested in leading a broke Ministry. With the latest budget strategy paper released by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning painting an unfavourable budgeting environment, and projecting a deficit, cash injection into the financially limping Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is almost a nullity. WUC is expected to the anchor parastatal of the newly proposed Ministry.
Close associates of the Minister have revealed that he would rather be a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s back bench. “The lack of financial resources to support some of the envisaged projects in the water sector seems to be a stumbling block for him. He prefers the minerals and energy sector, which he believes have gone through teething problems but prospects for financing some projects in this sector are promising. The lack of financing in the water sector is almost a setup for failure,” said a BDP Member of Parliament who sympathises with Mokaila.
Another Ministry which will carry the cash loaded sectors of mining and energy is likely to be given to one of the two people who will be adopted by Parliament as additional Specially Elected legislators. The capitalisation of projects under the two sectors is known to be steep but prospects for success in securing funders are always positive. Mokaila, should he take up the Water Ministry will also be tasked with dealing waste water issues, and currently the WUC needs serious capitalisation to effectively carry out the function.
THE CONUNDRUM FACING WUC
WUC needs a whopping P170 billion to contain the water crisis threatening Botswana. This is contained in a report from a study that was sanctioned by President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama that WUC carry out a “comprehensive assessment of water and wastewater situation” in the country.
According to the report, which was presented to not only Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources (MMEWR) but also to a full cabinet last year, WUC conceded that “the water situation requires immediate attention with huge resources.” The total amount of P170 billion is divided between water and wastewater interventions as well as among short, medium and long term.
For water, the government will need P165 billion while for waste water a total of close to P5 billion will be required. Botswana’s budget as presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo last year stood at a sum of P11 billion and it remains to be seen where government will source out the P170 billion to totally control the water situation in the country. The latest projection by the Ministry of Finance predicts a deficit as well.
Some sources in the top management at WUC had told this publication that efforts will be made to rope in private sector to contribute in the water security as a development process of the country. Some of the top priority projects North-South carrier scheme upgrading works estimated at P1.53 billion (funding available) and to be implemented from now till February 2017.
There will also be a North-South carrier 2.2 pipeline and associated works, Gaborone Wastewater reclamation plant, and Chobe Zambezi water transfer scheme at 66 billion and to take close to 7 years but funds are not available. Other projects include Gaborone master plan, Lobatse Masterplan, refurbishment of Mambo wastewater treatment works as well as Boteti southern and central cluster which will cost around 4 billion and 3 years.
According to the report, some projects include national water loss control project, Letlhakane wastewater, north East and Tutume sub district, and Selibe Phikwe Serule Transfer Scheme which are scheduled to take around 3 years at the cost of 3 billion – are also in the plan of the projects.
The executive was also reminded that some of the action points should be to “develop and enhance water governance – development of trade effluent agreement, development of the regulator, enhancement of institutions.” The report suggests that there is need to profile consumers against water quality required, citing Agriculture and mining requiring less potable water for their operations.
“Reinforcing the culture of conversation and demand management emphasising on huge consumers recycling water – this include institutions such as BMC, boarding schools, and, build water efficiency into building codes with all households urged to have rain water harvesting.”
The report analysed the 16 management centres across the country, national surface and groundwater sources versus demand clusters prior to the 2008 water sector reforms. Cabinet was told that “only 2 management centres of Kanye and Lobatse are in a bad situation whilst Ghanzi, Tsabong and Masunga require closer monitoring – as their situation is also undesirable. Generally the country reflects a healthy view with regards to water sources.
Through the map, WUC illustrated that the Maun, Ghanzi, Lobatse and Kanye management centres have acute water supply deficit of more than 30%. “Basically the picture reflects extreme infrastructure deficits generally throughout the country.
It was also highlighted that many parts of the country experience serious water loss ranging from 16 – 58% and these include parts of Tsabong, Kanye, Lobatse, Molepolole, Ghanzi, Maun, Kasane, Masunga, Serowe and Mochudi. The only areas that have acceptable water losses are Gaborone, Palapye, Francistown, Selebi Phikwe and Letlhakane management centres.
The report further states that areas currently with conventional sewerage system are: Maun, Gaborone, Kasane, Ghanzi, Francistown, Selibe Phikwe, Tonota, Palapye, Serowe, Mahalapye, Shoshong, Bobonong, Mochudi, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, Gabane, Lobatse, Goodhope, Jwaneng, Ramotswa and Orapa.
“Out of these only Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Selibe Phikwe have huge potential for reclamation.” However they need to be refurbished and upgraded to improve efficiency, report says.
The study found that Trade Effluent Agreements need to be put in place to ensure pre-treatment prior to discharging into the system – Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), tannery, poultry, textiles are cited as examples in the report. Effluent currently being discharged into the environment should be further treated for re-use.
It is understood that the total quantity that can be reclaimed from these systems is 50% as minimum of treatment plant capacity.
The government of Botswana has reportedly approved the dream of hosting African Cup of Nations in 2027 with Namibia as co-host, following a proposal to cabinet by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare.
WeekendSport learns that the organizing committee dreaming to host the tournament is preparing to hand their hefty book to Confederation of African Football (CAF) when bidding stage comes into open. Botswana Football Association (BFA) has, to this date, managed to win the confidence of the government, and all thoughts around the African football prestigious tournament are given serious attention with acceleration of construction of 10 mini stadia across the country, sources have said.
Furthermore, reports in Namibia state that the Botswana government has approached them with a proposal to co -host the 2027 edition of African tournament. “I can confirm that the minister of sport in Botswana has written to our minister but these are still early days and no decision has been made yet,” Audrin Mathe, an executive director in the Ministry of Sport was quoted by Namibia Sun this week. Meanwhile, Rakgare has said: “It is still an internal issues but yes, we are interested in hosting with Namibia.”
All the while, BFA president who also sits in CAF national executive committee is expected to embody a more emotive promise about the ability of African Cup in Botswana and how it can benefit the citizenry and by extension, the Southern region. With Zimbabwe having come out clean about their intentions to bid for 2034 World Cup, there has been a growing feeling that Botswana should try her luck, and therefore Botswana delegation will be hopeful to walk a fine line.
Although, the commercial potential of a Botswana AFCON Cup is a compelling factor in their favour, following the relative uncertainty of many African countries ( due to political instability, extent of corona virus ) and state of insecurity, BFA is minded not make that their thrust of the case. Hence the concentration on providing a home from home for all teams among Botswana’s diverse population and the opportunity to use the proceeds to advance legacy projects around Africa. The feeling on the ground is that the move might be bold, and some association influential players believe that it will be a matter of upgrading Maun stadium, Masunga and Serowe stadium.
An idea is also harbored that another stadium will be built in around Gaborone to boost the existing National Stadium with the Lobatse and Francistown stadia also expected to play pivotal role. All the while, a more than P20 million operational budget is said to be needed to travel the African countries in convincing them that Botswana is more suitable to host with its security and economy very much stable.
Botswana passes the mark when it comes to transportation, accommodation and hotel facilities. The fact that CAF normally want a country that has hosted youth tournaments before enables Botswana to score points in that it has hosted before. The only problem that might mark Botswana down is road infrastructure. BFA will consider roping in an experienced sport person and the high profile of former players like Diphetogo Selolwane is anticipated to appear for the thoughts building around the bid, and his name will be seen as watershed moment.
The southern region, however, might be dealt a devastating blow following the catastrophe that hit Angola when they hosted the 2010 edition. The Togo team was shot by rebels and panic erupted. However, the field is open and the ever shifting sands of CAF internal politics make the race hard to call and feed fears of horse trading and backroom deals.
Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.
This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory. Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.
The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service. “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”
According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service. It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.
“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.
The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.
“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”
The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.
The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.
“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.
“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.
It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement. The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.
It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.
In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics. “In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.
The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.
Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.
It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations. According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.
“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says. It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.