Allegations of conflict of interest and vindictiveness were flying this week after it emrged that BOT 50 member and also businessman, Jacob Sesinyi had prior contact with one of the companies that participated in a tender floated by the organisation he presides over as a board member.
A case between local advertising company, Dialogue Group and Botswana 50 Celebrations (BOT 50) Secretariat, in which the former wanted to stop the evaluation process for the multimillion pula contract to procure Choreography services for the opening ceremony of Botswana’s 50th independence celebrations was settled this week, at the centre of it was Sesinyi who is accused of having possibly influenced the decision to disqualify Dialogue Group.
On Monday 31st March 2016, Dialogue Group lost their urgent application with costs. A technicality of not submitting a valid Tax Clearance Certificate cost them, according to the court. It has emerged in court papers that the BOT 50 project evaluation team disqualified Dialogue Group citing invalid tax clearance even though BOT 50 was in possession of a valid tax clearance certificate which was submitted by the Dialogue Group together with their expression of interest documents. It is this admitted error on their part which explains their unsuccessful bid.
In the court papers, the Dialogue Group expressed concern that one of the BOT 50 Board Members who was part of the evaluation team, Jacob Sesinyi may have influenced the team to disqualify the Dialogue Group from the tender because one Terry Behan had refused to partner with Sesinyi on the project and instead chose to work with the Dialogue Group.
As part of the evidence presented before court, the Dialogue group presented copies of e-mail correspondence between Sesinyi and Terry Behan. At the time, Behan was CEO of VWV’s EMEA division, producers together with The Dialogue Group of the Africa 2014 African Youth Games opening and closing ceremonies.
In his response Jacob Sesinyi said his company has not participated in, expressed interest nor tendered for any of the BOT 50 tenders or projects whether invited or otherwise.
“The issues in question makes reference to a business email correspondence dated 13th April, 2015, sent by myself on behalf of my Company to one Terry Behan who was by then an employee of VWV,” said Sesinyi.
As at the date of that e mail, i.e. 13th April, 2015, Jacob Sesinyi was not a member of the BOT 50 Organizing Committee, but a Director of a business entity that has been in existence for almost a decade looking for opportunities locally and abroad. Most importantly as at that date there was absolutely neither conceptualization nor procurement process that had commenced in relation to the Opening Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016.
Meanwhile, as was stated by the Coordinator of the 50th Anniversary committee in her letter to the Dialogue Group Attorneys dated 18th March 2016, “The Dialogue Group cannot, and should not, have expected the evaluating panel to pull out the valid certificate from their previous Expression of Interest submission and add it to the Tender submission on their behalf.”
“This would have been tantamount to tempering with your client submission and therefore iniquitous and prejudicial to other bidders, and we are convinced your client would have objected to if it were another bidder. The Dialogue Group, like all other bidders, simply had to comply with the requirement of the invitation to tender to submit a valid Tax Clearance Certificate on their own,” she further expressed.
Sesinyi said further what they failed to convey, is that the desired collaboration by his company and VWV, was in relation to possible general national projects. This was even before the 49th anniversary, and was totally unrelated to the ongoing 50th Anniversary celebrations Opening ceremony, with which he subsequently became involved.
Sesinyi said part of his response to Terry was, “Thanks for the note, well appreciated. May I know if your current partnership does allow you to collaborate with any other party in Botswana on a project by project basis?” This according to Sesinyi they have chosen to omit his response in the sequence of correspondence exchanged between Terry and him and presumably this is because the aforementioned communication does not support the supposedly ongoing rancour or resentment on his part at the failed collaboration with Terry Behan.
In a written statement to this publication, Sesinyi posits: “I can confirm that I own and operate a communication consultancy that amongst other things develops and delivers communication solutions and events for various clients both locally and internationally. This consultancy has been in operation for almost a decade.
A significant number of solutions to our clients are delivered either on our own or in partnership with various partners both locally and internationally. We are therefore always on the look out for potential partners that can help us deliver to our clients’ needs either on a project by project basis or on a more permanent basis. It is in this context that we approached VWV for potential partnership. I can advise that at the same time, we approached other potential partners in other parts of the world. As a result, when VWV reverted advising that they were not able to partner with us, we happily moved on. We harbor no grudge or resentment towards VWV whatsoever.
I hasten to point out that upon being approached for BOT50, I immediately declared my business to both the Chairman and the appointing authority. Both encouraged me to take up the appointment nonetheless, and in consideration of my knowledge, skills and experience that BOT50 and the country requires.
I would like to state for the record, that neither myself nor my company have expressed any interest or tendered for any of the BOT50 jobs or tenders.”
As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.
According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.
According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.
“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.
BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.
Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.
Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.
BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.