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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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BDP unfazed by threat of united opposition 

30th November 2021
BDP unfazed

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership has indicated that the party is not worried about the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by opposition parties to support each other in the upcoming bye-elections.

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which comprise three opposition parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana People’s Party (BPP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP), recently agreed terms with other opposition entities; Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and the Alliance for Progressives (AP).

The duo of AP — a splinter part of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) — and BPF — a splinter of the BDP— did not contest under the ambit of UDC in the 2019 general election. The two parties have a combined four seats in parliament and a combined popular vote of 74 000 from the 2019 general election.

The signing of the MoU on bye-election is seen as a giant step by the opposition to consolidate their efforts against the BDP in the 2024 general election.

Unveiling the 11 candidates that will represent the party in the bye-elections billed for 18 December 2021, BDP Chairman Slumber Tsogwane stated that the cooperation of opposition parties to gang against the ruling party is not a new development in Botswana and that BDP has always emerged top in the face of such collaboration.

Tsogwane indicated that, as per reports, opposition parties had challenges relating to the allocation of wards, which were only resolved after the intervention of the leader of UDC, Advocate Duma Boko.

“We are not frightened by opposition cooperation. It is not happening for the first time. We have tasted it before. They tried in 2019, and it did not work,” Tsogwane said buoyantly.  “We still want to face them as a united block in 2024 because BDP is a giant that can only be tried by a united opposition.”

Tsogwane’s sentiments were shared by party secretary-general Mpho Balopi, who also believe that opposition cooperation is a non-starter. He said, in 2019, BDP increased its popular vote, despite BCP having joined the ranks after not partaking in the 2014 general elections. “They believed that based on 2014 numbers, the BCP joining UDC will give them power, but that was not the case,” Balopi said.

BDP increased its popular vote from 46.4 percent in the 2014 general elections to 52.6 percent in the 2019 general election. The 2014 general election was BDP’sBDP’s worst in history, with the party garnering a popular vote below 50 percent for the first time since independence. BDP also increased its seat by one in the last general elections. Meanwhile, the opposition garnered 19 seats in 2019 compared to 20 in the 2014 general election.

“They [opposition parties] have been doing so since 2011 after the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy in 2010. It is not a question of what are we going to do as the BDP. It is about what we have done in the past,” said Balopi. Balopi, who first became party secretary-general in 2011, led the BDP to the 2014 and 2019 general elections.

Last weekend, BDP held primaries in seven wards to choose candidates to represent the party in the 18 December bye-election. Meanwhile, four wards agreed to settle for compromise candidates.

The wards are going for elections on 18 December are the following; Nkgange North Ward (Nkange), Tamasane Ward (Mmadinare), Khwee Ward (Boteti East), Tumasera-Seleka Ward (Sefhare-Ramokgonami), Ga-Molopo Ward (Goodhope-Mabule), Lorolwane Ward (Mmathethe-Molapowabojang), Moshupa East Ward, (Moshupa-Manyana), Boseja South Ward (Mochudi East), Metsimotlhabe Ward (Gabane-Mmankgodi), MotokweTsetseng Ward (Takatokwane), Lentsweletau West (Lentsweletau-Mmopane).

Following the conclusion of the MoU agreement, BNF has been allocated six wards to contest. The wards are Boseja South, Khwee, Lorolwane, Moshupa East, Motokwe and Ga-Molopo. The BNF will, however, hold primary elections in Khwee while other wards settle for compromise candidates.

BCP will contest in Tumasera-Seleka Ward, Nkange North Ward and Metsimotlhabe Ward. An agreement has been reached that Metsimotlhabe Ward, despite being allocated to BCP, will field an AP candidate to warm up opposition unity talks for the 2024 general election. AP has also been awarded Lentsweletau East Ward.

Meanwhile, the new kid in the bloc, BPF, has managed to get Tamasane Ward in Mmadinare. It was also given Lorolwane Ward on paper, but it has decided to field a BNF candidate at the ward.

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Inside Private Security companies firearms proposal to Gov’t

30th November 2021
Private Security Company

A proposal by the private security companies operating in the cash business for firearm licensing, sent to government for consideration, has called on government to speedily consider licensing private security companies operating in the cash business as a panacea to the prevailing cash heists.

The companies say they do not seen why they cannot be armed because all the countries surrounding Botswana within the SADC region have a provision for armed private security. This, they say, has been the case for many years with South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia, and Angola all having this security measure in place and in many cases, for the last three decades.

“In all of these countries, the law provides that private security companies are entitled to use firearms subject to conditions under the law. For instance, in Angola private security personnel may only use firearms provided they have undergone competency training and are also required by law to keep registry and tracking of the licenced firearms. In many of these countries, armed private security does not only include for cash operations (including cash in transit) but extends to both the alarm response and to man-guarding services (a case in point being Namibia and South Africa),” reads the proposal.

The proposal further says this situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the Botswana currency is generally stronger than all other currencies in the region making it an attraction to would-be criminals. “Additionally the fact that this currency can be exchanged in any of the countries bordering it with relative ease, makes it an even more attractive avenue,” reads the proposal.

The estimated size of the cash in transit business, according to the companies, is estimated at over BWP 120m annually with over 160 daily delivery and collections between clients, the Central bank and the security company’s cash centres and automated teller machines (ATM’s). 

There are currently five security companies providing the CIT services in Botswana. Despite operating in the same security threat environment, and in many instances transporting high value consignments as the Government transfers, private security companies say they do not have the same armed escorts accorded to government consignments like cash and diamonds, as they are not licenced to carry firearms by law. 

“With the advent of increased security threats (as evidenced by the number of attempted and successful heists), these businesses require the same level of security in the form of having licenced firearms in order to provide their own armed escorts to ensure that there is sufficient cover and provide a deterrent to would-be criminals. The current arrangement of using Police escorts for private security, while effective as the Police are armed and acts as a deterrent, is not sustainable both in terms of resourcing and cost,”

Explaining how government handles own cash transfers, the companies says the government enlists armed Police escorts when moving high value consignments, in particular when transferring cash from and to the Central Bank due to the high risk associated with this movement. 

“This acts as a deterrent to ensure that there are no attacks on these consignments. This has proven to be an effective deterrent as criminals, knowing that the Police are armed, do not attempt to attack these transfers and to date there has not been a case reported on these despite the number of years this service has been in place,” stressed the companies in the proposal.

The companies dismissed claims that the licensing may in some ways be misused saying the government through the Arms and ammunition board has always conducted raffle draws for both shotgun and rifles for members of the public in order to access firearms licences. This, they say, has been ongoing for many years but there have not been serious incidents of misuse. 

“This provides a view that where there are proper control mechanisms in the issuance of firearm licences, public safety can still be guaranteed,” they observed.

Recommendations by Private Security Companies

Private security companies with Cash businesses request to be allowed to have licenced firearms in order to establish and run their own escort services. This is the only service to access firearms to mitigate the current risk. This will be subject to, amongst other requirements.

Strict criteria to be formulated in relation to the training of the officers who will use the firearms including continuous retraining at specified intervals. Firearms register to be developed with tracking capability and auditable by the authorities at all times. Firearms are retired by the officers at the end of duty on a daily basis and issued the following working day.

There will be a requirement for psychological evaluation for officers to be issued with firearms including ongoing evaluations at various intervals. The cash businesses will need to demonstrate the number of firearm licences required in line with the size of their cash businesses; approval to be based on proportionality to the required escort service and satisfaction 

The need for firearm licencing is further demonstrated by the nature of the business in that private clients invest in security companies for safe custody and transfer of their cash assets hence the security companies require to be effectively prepared to match these requirements and expectations that comes with this.

The companies proposed two models to be adopted, the first being for the provision for arming tactical teams that will provide escorts for the cash businesses. These teams will be in-house and the company is the one being licenced. The second is the provision for arming CIT crews (driver and crew man) across the cash business 

The companies further warned that this has to be taken seriously because the Cash In Transit service is critical to the daily functioning of the money economy by ensuring that cash circulation is optimally maintained. 

Major clients such as banks and retailers, they said, depend on this service for successfully running their businesses. “For these clients, same day value in money transfers is crucial as customer demands are increasingly high to be able to withdraw and deposit money at ATM’s without disruption and in the case of retailers deposits made are required for working capital on a daily basis. Disruption in the provision of the service, as is the case where the security of the service is affected due to armed robberies, results in the disruption to the functioning of these sectors and the associated losses incurred,” they concluded.

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How Ministry Local Gov’t lost control of P3.3 billion for orphans 

30th November 2021
Molale

The Auditor General’s report for 2019/2020 shows how hundreds of orphans could not benefit from an account holding billions of Pula because officials at the Department of Social Protection under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development slept on the job. 

Also robbed of the opportunity to benefit from the programme were vulnerable children.

The report reveals that the Department had outsourced beneficiary payments to Botswana Post, Sandulela Telecom Botswana and Smartswitch Botswana (Pty Ltd). Each service provider was engaged to effect payments for specific elements of the beneficiary packages. The Department disbursed a total of P3.3 billion from 2016/2017 to 2019/2020.

“However, the Department had lost control of the key financial operations to the service providers, who had breached the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on numerous occasions,” the report says.

The report says that a Memorandum of Understanding between the department and service providers requires engaged companies to ‘consolidate, verify and return all unclaimed payments to Client, together with a list of beneficiaries who did not claim such payments’. Such information must be submitted after every three (3) months for reconciliation.

“However, the service providers on numerous occasions contravened the terms of the agreement, as they took a substantial amount of time beyond the stipulated period to return unclaimed monies. Instances were noted where Sandulela took unduly long, even up to 21 months to submit returns to the Government,” the report says,

The report states that Sandulela held an average of P6.2 million in unclaimed cash allowances during this period, thereby denying the Government the opportunity to invest the monies elsewhere and earn interest.

Regarding the MoA, the report says that Botswana Post and Sandulela Telecom were required to open separate bank accounts to be used ‘solely for the social benefits cash allowances in the Agreement and the interest accrued in that account shall be reimbursed to the Client’. The agreement also provided that the service provider may keep the monthly unclaimed cash component for a period not exceeding three months with interest accrued thereon.

In line with their obligations, says the report, the Department credited Botswana Post and Sandulela Telecom with P2.3 billion and P371 million, respectively, for social welfare grants payroll for 2016/2017 to 2019/2020. Some of the beneficiaries did not collect their cash allowances monthly, and these had accumulated to P66 million for Botswana Post and P9 million for Sandulela Telecommunication Botswana.

“Based on the above observations, the Government could have earned interest on the unclaimed cash allowances if they had been returned as prescribed. As such, the service providers did not fully abide by the terms of the agreement,” the report says.

The report found that the agency fees for each invoice were based on the number of beneficiaries paid in a period multiplied by the rate prevailing at a specific location. It was observed that the Client did not receive reconciliation reports showing paid and unpaid allowances in time to update the Social Benefit and Reconciliation System (SOBERS) application system.

“Therefore, the credibility of the amount as calculated in the invoice could not be reasonably assured. The P47 million and P142 million agency fees paid to Sandulela and Botswana Post respectively for a period of 4 years may not be reflective of the number of beneficiaries paid,” the report says.

Retarding the Beneficiary Management Process, the report shows that the beneficiary registration system had some deficiencies, which resulted in delays in updating the monthly payroll with newly approved beneficiaries. Some beneficiaries had to wait for up to 5 years before they could receive the cash allowance, consequently defeating the programme’s key objectives.

“A total of 2 270 social grant beneficiaries who passed on from as far back as 1997/1998 were removed from the payroll in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, which meant that some of them had remained active in the payroll for more than 20 years after their death. The Department had deposited their share of cash allowances amounting to over P17 million with the service providers, and there was no evidence of interest paid to the Client on this amount,” the report says.

In addition, the report says, cash allowance for 50 beneficiaries was claimed even though they were deceased. The audit could not rule out the misappropriation of P185 545 in payments to non-existent beneficiaries.

In terms of the Child in Need of Care (CNC) and the Community Home Based Care (CHBC) programmes, the report says, children require a special diet prescribed by a paediatrician to be enrolled. For that reason, the food parcels should include the prescribed food items only. According to the report, this proved to be easy to manipulate since the Smartswitch card did not have any restrictions established specifically for CNC.

“The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is in partnership with 9 NGOs, whose main aim is to protect the orphans and vulnerable children. The implementation of the programme includes key activities assigned to the District Councils,” says the report.

Therefore, the report says that the exchange of crucial information reports between the two parties is vital for the Client to be up-to-date with the operations to execute their mandate. The oversight role was therefore considered ineffective due to the following:

The NGOs did not provide quarterly narrative reports, financial reports and annual audited financial statements to account for transactions on their operations, which was in breach of the MoA. The Botswana National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children for 2010-2016 requires DSP to establish an independent body to provide oversight comprising development partners; however, this had not been done.

The DSP did not establish the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee as required by the National Monitoring & Evaluation Framework, whose mandate was inter-alia to ensure that Local Authorities effectively account for funds disbursed to them and establish whether they had been utilized for the intended purposes.

As a result, the report says the “Department had lost control of and had abdicated their responsibility and accountability for funds approximating P806 million disbursed between 2016/2017 and 2019/2020 to the NGOs and Local Authorities.”

It says that while the objectives of different classes of social grants may have been met, it is nevertheless of paramount importance that all the prescribed criteria in all the authorities are complied with for sound management of the programme.

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