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Frustrated Gov’t establishes project management office

Palapye Glass Project which was expected to create jobs

President Lt Gen Ian Khama has announced that as a result of recent frustration with poor delivery of Morupule B and other projects, government is in the process of establishing a project management office.

Delivering his 8th State of Nation Address (SONA), Khama said the Project Management Office will be mandated to oversee the implementation of major energy and water projects. “This will be done through appropriate project management methodologies,” he said.

Ever since ascending to the presidency in 2008, Khama has had to endure a difficult spell marred by massive projects which could not be delivered on time and on budget.
In 2008, a number of projects including refurbishment of the National Stadium and establishment of Francistown Stadium were undertaken; both projects were delivered way behind schedule and cost government more money than envisaged. It was government’s plan that both projects would benefit the country, as they were scheduled to be completed at the time South Africa was hosting the 2010 World Cup.

Of all the projects, the P11 billion World Bank and African Development Bank funded projects became a contentious issue as it plunged the country into darkness effectively affecting the business community.

The Morupule B remains a conundrum for government as demand for power across the sectors of economy continues to rise. Khama announced that to ensure long term security of power supply, government is compelled to procure Independent Power Producers for the development of an additional 300 MW by extending Morupule B with Unit 5 and 6  as well as a further 300mw plant at a coalfield  to be determined. “We are also refurbishing Morupule A, while introducing solar power plants,” Khama said.

Another project, the Palapye Glass Project which was expected to create jobs, was liquidated while underway after it was said to have failed to meet its targets.

Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Company (Proprietary) Limited was a joint venture between Botswana Development Corporation and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Co. Ltd, a Chinese company. The Company was set up in 2007 for the construction of a 450 tonne float glass plant in Palapye and it cost government over P500 million.

Failure to complete the projects on time has seen Khama’s administration and China’s relationship deteriorating to a point where Botswana has now resorted to alternative partners in infrastructure development. Khama, a few weeks ago visited South Korea to establish agreements on a number of trade deals.

Botswana has in the past awarded its major projects to Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) but this trend is likely to change in the near future. Khama has been on record saying government is going to be looking very carefully at any company that originates from China in providing construction services of any nature.

Khama also announced that when implementation of the ESP commences, District Commissioners will report on its progress directly to the Ministry of State President to strengthen overall coordination. Khama also announced that the delivery of ESP will be facilitated by a high level Project Implementation Unit.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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