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)
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.