Council moves against breach of contract
- Contractor’s project behind schedule, residents furious
- Contractor contested and lost in Kanye South BDP Bulela Ditswe
- The delayed project is in the same constituency (Kanye South)
Southern District Council is expected to take action against a prominent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist who lost last year’s primaries, following his company’s award of a tender to pave Kanye internal roads.
The company Konkan Maintenance Services is owned by Thato Baruti who lost the BDP primaries to Dr. Lemogang Ntime. Ntime garnered 1 566 against Baruti’s 1 298.
Information reaching Weekend Post is that the contractor failed to proceed with reasonable speed and the project is already three months overdue. This publication gathers that warning letters were issued to the contractor on several occasions but they did not yield any positive outcomes as the contractor failed to deliver the project within the project parameters.
The first correspondence was dated 20th August 2013 and the contractor was warned about the delay of works at the project and subsequently on 25th September was issued with breach of conditions of contract. The contractor in turn applied for extension of time to SDC on 28th October 2013 and was replied on the matter on 12th November in which the extension was not granted. The delay was said to be inconsistent with the contract.
Among other things, the contract stipulates that if the works are delayed by bad weather or employee strike, the council secretary shall make a fair and reasonable extension of time for completion of the works. Therefore it was believed that in the council secretary’s view it was unreasonable to extend the time of the project.
WeekendPost can reveal that the project’s original contract amount is in the tune of P5.5 million and was commenced on 11th June 2013. The completion date was set for 24 October 2013 and therefore alluding that it is so far three months behind schedule.
Residents have complained about the project as they say it inconveniences them and disturbs their local travel experience. Failure to complete the project in the constituency that the owner has shown interest in being its Member of Parliament has a stroke of conspiracy theories that it might be a sabotage to render those in political leadership in the area as ineffective. The WeekendPost visited the site and can confirm that the project came to a halt.
Overall progress for the project as at December 17, 2013 was 23 percent with cumulative expenditure of P1.2 million. It has been established that the contractor had been warned against his slow progress but even up to date the works are incomplete.
Contacted for comment, Baruti said they are requesting an extension to February 28th 2014 for reasons which he could not disclose.
The contract between the council and the contractor further states that, “If the contractor fails to complete the works as stated in the tender within any extended time under clause 23 the contractor shall pay 0.0274% of the contract sum per day for the period during which works have remained incomplete. The council may deduct this from money due to the contractor,” the clause which the council has started implementing.
Investigations by this publication suggest that culverts units were delivered to the site on September 16, 2013 and excavation for them was complete on October 31, 2013. However installation has not been completed, as the contractor is failing to provide the necessary construction equipment.
It is further reported that the concreting works for the remaining 1.9 km length of road for kerb stones along Tsopye road link stopped on November 17, 2013 as the contractor was failing to provide the necessary materials. Interlocking bricks and sand for bedding are not adequate to complete the remaining section.
Base preparation for Tsopye road link is not yet complete as there is still 1.3 km to be completed. The temporary access is not adequately provided and properly maintained and watered to suppress dust. This was brought to the attention of the site foreman on several occasions.
WeekendPost turned up information that the contractor’s plant is constantly breaking down and the contractor takes a long time to repair them. This has significantly contributed to the delay in completing the project.
The Council Secretary, Mompati Seleka, confirmed the delay of the project. “The contractor has not been performing as per the contract and we tried cautioning him several times that he may face termination. With the persistent non compliance with the contract the termination is most likely to happen.”
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Batswana owe banks P79 billion
The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.
Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.
“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.
She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.
On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.
It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.
Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.
According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.
Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.
“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.
She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.
“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month. Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.
He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.
How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor
The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”