Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi
The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi has said his Ministry is working with various state agencies to ensure that the Economic Stimulus Programme is not taken advantage of.
The Minister revealed that they have already met with construction industry players to brief them about the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). The ESP was announced at a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) special congress in October.
Molefhi said MIST was already working with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) as well as the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) to ensure that none within the industry took advantage of the programme. Molefhi also highlighted that the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) to ascertain that the set regulations are not flouted in the process.
There have been reports of civil servants intending to line up their companies to execute ESP projects and other unsubstantiated reports of lists of companies being submitted to various ministries as potential executors of ESP projects. Molefhi said all ESP projects will be implemented in the normal and acceptable procedure.
Although project implementation has been his ministry’s biggest challenge, Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi says the ministry has learnt more from the challenges experienced and is resolute the same experiences will help them avert such in future.
Molefhi, who conceded at a media update for his ministry earlier this week that his ministry was coming from a very difficult and painful past where many government major projects were completed behind their intended time and beyond budget said contractors who have showed poor workmanship have either had their contracts terminated or seen defects rectified at their own costs.
“The challenges we often see in the built environment include poor workmanship, cost overruns and failure to perform by some service providers. My ministry continues to explore ways of how to improve on these and has started to implement initiatives to mitigate the impact of these challenges which among others include the continued use of Quality Audit teams established a little over two years ago to deal with both pre and post contract performance-related matters, strict contract supervision and execution monitoring, enforcing contractual obligations among others,” Minister Molefhi said.
He vowed that the ministry was prepared to put an end to government’s being taken for granted by service providers, “…where we believe the service provider’s lack of performance warrants termination of their contract, we have done so in the past and we will do it in future if necessary, without fear or favour to safeguard public interest.”
The minister regretted among other things his ministry having been tempted to take over incomplete projects due to public impatience after waiting for too long to use facilities whose completion dates were substantially delayed.
He further asserted that for the construction industry, which is riddled with many shortcomings, especially with regards to unregulated environment, the ministry along with stakeholders continue towards initiatives directed towards the creation of a conducive environment for self-regulation of the sector.
“During the year under review, the Ministry continued to facilitate the implementation of legal instruments and administrative structure for both Architects and Quantity Surveyors through financial support,” he revealed.
Furthermore, the minister said MIST had also forged ahead with the development of the Contractor’s Registration Bill for the establishment of the proposed Construction Industry Authority Botswana. “This bill is still at drafting stage, but the overarching objective of the Construction Industry Authority Botswana will be to implement an integrated strategy for the reconstruction, growth and development of the construction industry and to provide for matters connected therewith,” he said. According to Molefhi, the ministry target is to complete the Bill in readiness for presentation to the Parliament meeting of July 2016.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.