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Human, Employee account of Morupule B problems


FOR MINISTER MOKAILA AND BPC BOARD

I wish to have space in your paper to express the working class frustrations we are made to undergo including harassment and non-respect to our Union Branch  Committee by the regime that is supposed to be heading our generation SBU at Morupule B Power station including xenophobic remarks he continues to subject to all and sundry. It is sad.

The Director has no respect for the union operations and respect for its existence; not once has he bothered to address our branch committee on issues that affect our welfare ever since installed our director.

He continues to show disdain for Batswana every time we comment on best way to run the plant in the interest more of the nation now and in the long term.

Every time one is brave to comment, he is ever told how he/she ran Morupule A down ; this so powerful man forgets he was part of the director decision and influence whilst at Transmission to close down the plant that had two turbines and two boilers available to have run economically had he not done such which was all influenced in part by their selfish interest to cash on commission from funds that were to buy HFO rather preferring to run the high cost ever diesel plant.

It  this very powerful man who has taken our roles as citizens to ensure effective Morupule B operations and surrendering it to expatriates like him who continuously run machinery to fail under disguise of production to satisfy his ego less safety and reliability hence the continuous shutdowns worse than when run by CNEEC. Hence the continued and unimproved services even after two years of his cronies operation.

It is him who issued scrupulous tenders running into more than millions of pulas per month circumventing tender regulations to his suspicious cronies as it happened to an all shocking vacuum cleaner truck that was manned by only two persons, ever packed running sometimes not more than ten days a month whilst the bulk of the supposed truck job was done by local and temporal labourers.

These people were employed for more than twelve months but treated as casuals thanks to this cruel and heartless director who cares less about citizens’ employment yet they were doing a critical job. Our union clarion call to the attention of this powerful man was as usual; “what did you do at Morupule A which is shut down”. When more pressure came from finance people about duplication of duties (‘his’ and Steag hired truck and people), the citizens were sacrificed in lieu of this powerful truck. And no sooner after the termination was done another set of labourers were employed and no one dared ask a thing.

How the truck was engaged through Steag instead of directly through BPC as the payer anyway gives a clear conflict of interest between this director, Steag and truck owner. The salaries for the forty labourers including overtime at the worst case scenario was never Pula One Hundred thousand per month at any given time and but rather 1.5 million pula per month on this monster.

We as the union do not have any platform to engage this powerful director for he is god himself and the only persons are his Steag people to whom he has abdicated his accountability, the welfare of Botswana Power Corporation generation facility and has no respect for citizens. He even brags that he does not care for he is marketable even if our government fires him.
It is under the powerful director’s authority that we saw him get his blessed Steag set specifications for our plant simulator and then tender for its supply; and it only happens in generation SBU and only in BPC and most probably only here in Botswana more particular under such leadership of his kind and things are normal.

It is only under the directorship of this all-powerful man that purchasing has no rules; how he justified purchase of motors in excess of millions of Pulas to the Board when CNEEC has admitted to poor quality of installed ones and agreed to replacement with proper quality bits logic, it can only raise eye brows. At least the powerful director can learn a thing from his supposedly ‘useless’ Morupule A engineers as he calls them; all large motors are still in very good running state at that plant as at the time of his station closure influence and should still run. There is still no motor spare of such capacity to date at Morupule A for it is not necessary.

Thanks to the blank cheque you issued to your Steag ‘engineers who are mostly in all honesty (truth hurts) clueless when it comes to managing Plant maintenance. And how does he explain to the Board some of the scrupulous price changes and has he ever bothered to investigate some of his cronies’ international trips to supplier country regarding such, particularly his technically impaired staff. Just saying!

Yes, he pushes anybody anyhow and gets angry at questioning the competencies of some of his all-powerful Steag engineers and the relevance of their being here when they don’t have the requisite skills and competencies as per the expectations when the nation was told Steag was bringing expert skills. It is open knowledge that some of the Steag ‘engineers’ as they mostly are called are literally on the job training but our members told to be understudying them.

It only happens under the directorship of the all-powerful man from our neighbor where power generation facility is no better than ours that; we have the largest number of engineers against artisans or operators the whole world. And mostly freshers from school who would be monitoring what citizens are doing in the interest of their country and would be first to rush to the all-powerful director to report what they did. The citizen would never dare come closer to share the problem and how was solved with this powerful director lest he curse the day he was born.

Truth hurts; It is true that when your Steag was offered contract, it has or should have elements of manpower capacity and their competencies. It is only you and you alone who knows Steag staff competencies and you alone but finds it strange citizen managers appreciate steag staff ones whilst Steag has the audacity to do such to even those who have been training them for the past two years when they first came here; some of them extremely blank. You see this normal and we will not be surprised they report you untruths about citizens to ensure their continued stay here.

It only happens under you that a company coming from outside Botswana employs even the lowest foreign cadres in such fields as data collector, cleaner, driver and even ordinary artisans when we have an abundance of such in our national market; you fail to admit some of these guys are incompetent hence mostly in training hence always crowding together rather than with citizens to impart the alleged skills you claim they have-WHY!!!!!

It is only under your regime in the whole of Africa where we have such; of the total Production section, there are close to sixty Steag engineers doing mostly basic plant operations, which is Senior operator or operator against ten local engineers who are Shift Engineers, a total of at least fifty two maintenance engineers against fourteen local engineers. The result is commotion and collision over authorities in all these as the structures are top heavy under your regime.

How does one collect knowledge from such huge number of people whose role sometimes they even confess do not know but all here to gain experience. When asked questions about this drama Sir, you get so agitated and angry; develop hate, scorn and wish the questioner demonic death by your looks whilst pretend to appreciate the questions;  the poor sole would receive your radiation hate impact which is more painful later. Our union has on numerous instances questioned your lieutenants on your intended succession plan to no avail safe for the useless training programs offered by Steag trainees turned trainers thanks to your Steag relationship. The caliber of supposedly artisans is mostly disastrous and your company should have recruited locals who do better.

It remains your closely guarded secret as to HR issues pertaining to you Steag/ BPC relations hence you continue to accept employees be trained under the shabby Steag training program. We only went through your program as we were threatened you would fire us as that program was your lifeline irrespective of its uselessness. That is why you found it normal that our crème-de-LA crème production engineers are said to have failed this useless program; to justify your friends’ continued stay here whilst you pass your accountability to them.

You have issued your Steag team blank cheque authorization certificates without requisite tests against the Corporation Safety Regulations hence the continued accidents to both man and machinery and you maintain your blind eye watch for it is your team mates. We know that if it was a local, you would dismiss him/her without even investigating. Your friends always blame their incompetency and noncompliance to regulations to system error or something; count how many reports you have swept under the carpet and that’s human blood on your hands sir. Your friends have not facilitated authorization of citizens not even provisional as you did for your Steag team; and you do not wonder why.

This is strange. We know you are preparing them for a coop in the station; but behold and beware, our union will fight this with all its might, what we gave you last time when you failed to address our economic plied whilst you continue splashing money indiscriminately to Steag  through its mostly liability engineers and suppliers was nothing. We need to be told of Steag HR role in our welfare as a matter of urgency; information you the great director has endorsed about our welfare behind our union representation for so long thinking we may never get to know. Trust us Sir, if it contracts what we have signed with BPC, it not our Conditions of Service but yours and your Steag.

As I conclude, and having pumped sense into the powers that be over our economic hardships, we now call upon the August Board to dig deep into their economic acumen which we so much trust and value over the huge Steag staff complement in all levels and the relevance thereof c.f the their wage bill as passed to you for authorization. We sincerely belief this powerful director is giving our respectful Board a ‘Hear No Evil See No Evil’ feedback as regards his Steag. We have come to respect and feel honored to note our Board of Directors have us at heart after all and this, trust us, has got us all the reason to get back to deliver as promised in our honour and the Board. At least you have participated and gone through Chimurenga, so we trust you will withstand the heat soon as you have always boasted.

Finally; Note; Workers Power is Mightier and Greater Than Your Human authority. Whilst privileged to lead, know God can take that away but Working Class Struggle Continues.
MOTSEI BODULA (Concerned Citizen and Employee)

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020
Botswana’s-development-agenda-in-jeopardy--water-construction

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020
Brigades

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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