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How Basarwa of Ranyane lost against Gov’t

The 114 applicants wanted to be provided with water and other amenities

Residents of Ranyane settlement in the Gantsi District waited for almost a year for a judgement to be delivered at the Gaborone High Court, only to be told that as long as they have chosen to remain in a wildlife management area while others agreed to be relocated to other areas, they are not entitled to free services from government.


Residents had taken government to court over the termination of water services, mobile clinic and Draught relief programmes in their area. They demanded such services to be restored.


In a Judgement that took Justice Terrence Rannowane ten Months to prepare, Ranyane residents were told that the Council cannot be ordered by court to extend such services to unrecognised settlements such as theirs.


“In summary, I find that Ranyane is an unrecognised settlement situated within wildlife management area. The provision of services thereat including water and Ipelegeng programmes was a temporary arrangement and all the rightful beneficiaries and consumers of the services were aware of this arrangement. The termination of such services followed extensive consultations with the residents,” Rannowane ruled.


Rannowane reserved this judgment last year December and by the time he delivered the judgement on Wednesday this week; just two of the 114 applicants in the matter were present in court. The duo said it was because others could not make it to Gaborone on short notice owing to the long distance and the remote location of their Settlement.


Ranyane is located about 300 km East of Gantsi Township, making it around 1000 kilometres from Gaborone. It is inhabited mostly by Basarwa tribe, some Bangologa as well as Bakgalagadi tribes. It has a Headman, an elected Councillor as well as a specially nominated Councillor. According to the 2011 population census, the settlement had 182 people.


The attorney, representing the 114 applicants in the legal battle for restoration of services, Onalethata Kambai of Kambai Attorneys in Gaborone who represented them on voluntary basis said he had to travel to Ranyane to inform the people of the outcome of their court case.


“On the face of it, it is appealable, but we are going to consult the clients first. Left as it is, the judgment sets a bad precedence that people cannot co-exist with animals,” Kambai expressed his disappointment with the judgment.
However he insisted that it is the applicant who would make a decision of whether or not to appeal against the judgment.

Tale of Ranyane

The conflict of services between Ranyane and the Gantsi District Council started in 2011 following the population census which revealed that the number of people living in the area was going up. From then, the Council announced its plan to relocate the Basarwa who had settled in the area over the years to neighbouring settlements such as Bere.  Met with résistance from residents, the government then took away the only borehole engine which was pumping underground water to supply the settlement and the legal battle ensued.


One of the applicants in the matter Heebe Karakubis, 57, says she was born and grew up in Ranyane. The government insists that she was not born in Ranyane but rather a nomad who travelled from other parts of Gantsi District.


However the evidence she submitted before court was that she and other residents used to live on wild fruits and berries such as kgengwe and mokawa as well as hunting wild animals for sustenance around Ranyane area. The lifestyle changed after independence when the government passed laws banning hunting. Since then most residents earn their living by working in farms around the settlement and in government draught relief programmes such as Ipelegeng.


The explanation by government is that in the 1960s, boreholes were sunk along a stretch of land from Gantsi District to Lobatse known as the trek route boreholes. They were used for watering cattle which were driven on foot, donkey or horseback to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Lobatse and Ranyane was one of those boreholes drilled for such purpose.


Since selling cattle to BMC was not an everyday event, the boreholes were used for other purposes including as source of water for Basarwa who were ordinarily nomadic and lived around various pans during rainy season. The borehole was later used as an artificial insemination camp.


Ranyane residents told court that before the camp was established, there were Basarwa who were already living there. The government subsequently closed the artificial insemination camp and stopped operating the borehole. The Basarwa tribe continued living in Ranyane as they used to before independence.


Records from the Department of Animal Production show that Ranyane and other boreholes were decommissioned in the 1980s; and the artificial insemination camp was moved to Metsimantsho settlement.


In 1992, Ranyane residents say they requested the Council to provide them with a borehole engine so that they can draw water for the settlement. The very same year, officials from the Gantsi Land Board and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks informed the residents in a kgotla meeting that Ranyane was a Wildlife Management area and that their presence in the areas was obstructing the movement of the animals.


However three years later, in 1995 Metsimantsho Councillor Paul Mokgethisi, moved a motion calling for the re-opening of Ranyane borehole for use by Basarwa who were then residents at Metsimantsho, Ncojane and various pans such as Gakhwa, Zwgkata, Kaangwa, Dibakang, Uzwe, Ngwamasisi, Rulane and others.


The council adopted the motion since Basarwa in those areas, though generally nomadic, were living precariously during dry seasons. The motion according to the Council was adopted with understanding that Basarwa would get water temporarily at Ranyane until a settlement is identified for them. Since then the Council provided maintenance of the engine, constructed a reservoir and water reticulation pipes in Ranyane.


“The council undertook to operate the borehole as a temporary measure as it was within the wildlife management area and those who settled there were made aware of this arrangement and this included the then Councillor for the area. It was only in 1996 that people started converging in that area increasing the population from 39 in 1991 to 94 in 2001 and to 182 as per 2011 census,” Rannowane noted in his judgment.


The Gantsi District Council had argued that, following the reopening of the borehole in 1995, there was an influx of Bakgalagadi and other Tswana speaking farmers who left their farms and other communal boreholes to take advantage of free water in Ranyane. Some of them brought with them large numbers of livestock (300 herd per farmer) and quickly became dominant in decision making. This state of affairs did not help the situation and exacerbated the costly and unsustainable nature of the provision of services and the Council could not cope.


“It had become clear, it was averred, through kgotla consultative meetings that it was not the original Basarwa people who were intended to be temporarily assisted with water at Ranyane but other ethnic groups with large numbers of cattle who had incited them to renege from the original agreement. That was apparently because they had left their own farms and boreholes behind and were amassing riches at the expense of Council,” Rannowane further stated.


The Council stopped the operation of the engine on the 8th December 2011. The engine was in working order when removed. The Basarwa people were told the engine was removed because they were now sharing water with other tribes especially Bakgalagadi who had settled in Ranyane and reared more domestic animals.


However the Engine was brought back in 2012, but the Council was no longer providing free diesel. The residents had to sell their lifestock to buy the needed 210 litres of diesel which costs around P21 000.00 Month plus an extra P1000.00 for transporting it from Gantsi.


In the event the engine is malfunctioning, they have to go for many weeks or months without water as compared to when the Council was running it as it would immediately send an officer to fix it. The current engine used at Ranyane was bought by the residents after they mobilised their resources to buy it at a whooping amount of P10 000.00.


Although the court has reaffirmed the Council’s stance that Ranyane is an unrecognised settlement,  several developments and services were brought to Ranyane just like in all other areas within the Gantsi district including the installation of a Headman of Arbitration in 1998. A kgotla, shelter for mobile clinic and a toilet were constructed by Ranyane dwellers through the draught relief programme. They also fenced the Ranyane graveyard and debushed the main road through the same programme.


The Independent Electoral Commission even put up a polling station at the area during previous elections and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Planning recognised Ranyane when a Councillor was specially nominated to represent Ranyane/Metsimantsho ward in the Gantsi District Council.

On the 1st May, 2013, the Council engaged in a house to house campaign where the people were told to relocate or suffer the consequences as the Council intended to terminate the provision of services by way of removing the borehole engine amongst other services.


On the 24th May 2013 there was an urgent meeting addressed by government officials and at the said meeting the Land Board Chairperson, Nelson Molepolole is said to have told the Ranyane inhabitants that they had to relocate otherwise the government would engage the Police and the Special Support Group to monitor those who refused to relocate. If fact Molepolole is said to have threatened those who refused to relocate that their houses will be demolished using earth moving equipment.


Some residents gave in to the forceful relocation while some resisted and successfully launched a legal action against government.


On July 2013, the then Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Olebile Gaborone addressed a meeting where he tried to persuade the resident to relocate but the majority refused. In one of the meeting the Minister promised that the government would respect the court order and would do nothing to contradict or disobey it.


That very same Month the government stopped all draught relief programme from Ranyane.


Before the programme was terminated, there were 40 residents of Ranyane employed on a rotational basis earning around P400 per Month. They relied on the money to support themselves and families. Since the termination of the programme they contend they do not have alternative employment or source of income and hence they have been reduced to live in dire destitution.


Some residents had to move to neighbouring settlements such as Kole and Metsiamanong where the services have not been terminated. Some relocated so as to take up work in draught relief programmes while others had to safe themselves and their livestock from thirst.


The resident are of the view that these unpleasant state of affairs were deliberately designed by the government to punish those who refuse to relocate from Ranyane and to compel them to move out and that in the absence of reasonable explanation for termination of the said services, the government’s conduct amount to unjustified and unfair discrimination in the distribution and provision of services.


The government stand is that it never intended to force Basarwa to relocate from Ranyane but rather that the house to house campaign of May 2013 was to “take the inventory of belongings of those who were willing to relocate and also to deal with possible family issues such as a situation where within a family some members would wish to relocate whilst others would want to remain behind.


It further suggested that the Basarwa prior to the influx of other ethnic groups had never shown any indication of reneging from the understanding that their stay was temporary.


The government further contended that the Bakgalagadi and Tswana Speaking groups influenced a motion to declare Ranyane a recognised settlement despite the low number of residents.


The government stand is that due to low number of residents coupled with the fact that it was located within a wildlife management area, Ranyane could not be declared a recognised settlement.


As regards the provision of drinking water, Rannowane concluded that the matter should be resolved with the Water Utilities Corporation, which is responsible for provision of such a service throughout the country and that the provision of a mobile clinic is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health not of the Gantsi District Council.

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Government ignores nurses’ COVID-19 anxieties

4th August 2021
Nurses

Health workers are at the front line fighting the deadly, contagious COVID-19. These workers have an immense challenge of welfare and government has since turned a blind eye to dares and crushing odds throttling health officers, particularly nurses.

Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has once more called on government to invest in the country’s nurses and give the nursing profession dignity.

In May 2020, BONU President, Obonolo Rahube said government should, in line with the advocacy of World Health Organisation (WHO) invest more on nurses and midwives, and further advised government to address challenges that nurses are faced with. The proposal was made on International Nurses Day.

At the time, Rahube urged government to provide subsidised accommodation for nurses and midwives as it has emerged that during the fight against the Corona-virus, accommodation for nurses and midwives is very important. Rahube called on government to provide nurses and midwives with 100% medical cover.

He also called on government to introduce risk allowance for nurses and midwives, noting that as frontline workers during the pandemic, they are at high risk. Nurses also demanded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a matter which they lost with costs in court. Also critical during the COVID-19 era for health workers, psychological support is what BONU maintains is still lacking.

In the same year (2020), the Union raised a number of other challenges they are being faced with. These challenges, they asserted, make it testing for them to undertake their duties, especially now that COVID-19 has shaken Botswana’s already weak health system.

BONU expressed disappointment at nurses’ pay, nurses who tested positive for COVID-19 at an alarming rate, violence against nurses, nurses’ contracts which were never renewed and a poorly coordinated vaccination plan for health workers.

Clearly, nurses are not only battling the COVID-19 virus, but also government who has since refused to come to the party.

This week once again, BONU tested waters and slammed government with more demands, some of which have turned into an everyday song while COVID-19 continues to kill more nurses.

At a press conference on Tuesday, BONU President Rahube said over 800 nurses have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, 34 nurses lost their lives due to COVID-19 related infections.

WHO and other health experts say for countries to emerge victorious from the COVID-19 pandemic, they must fast-track the roll out of vaccine. In Botswana, there is no clear explanations of how the vaccination plan is going.

The situation around vaccination is chaotic, and this is evidenced by only 28% of nurses who have been vaccinated. President Mokgweetsi Masisi is also disturbed by the COVAX programme as Botswana vaccines arrive in the country missing, every time.

Debates in Parliament on which vaccine to adopt are failing to conclude, in fact, they never gained energy. Rahube told members of the media that nurses are overworked.

“Shortage of nurses puts those available at risk. Some nurses are on isolation, quarantine and some passed on. Nurses do both testing and contact tracing so they end up working stretched hours, at times from 6am to 10pm. There is no how nurses will be able to deliver while exhausted,” he said.

He further indicated that infection control practitioners are not recognised and deployed appropriately, and some regions have shortage of commodities and supplies such as water resistant gowns (nurses are forced to re-use those availed), masks, gloves, scrubs and uniforms.

Oxygen supply is said to be in shortage, something that mounts COVID-19 deaths.

“Patients lose their lives whilst still awaiting to be put on oxygen. Psychological services are in serious need as nurses continue to lose their significant others, faced with resource constraints and many of them are not vaccinated,” said Rahube.

Accommodation still remains a huge challenge for nurses. BONU President said nurses overcrowd with families and colleagues.

In Kauxwi, four nurses share a single house, in Moshaweng two nurses share a single bedroomed house together with their families, with no electricity yet the village is powered. In Kazungula, there are only two staff houses for 11 nurses and their families.

The union stressed that the Chief Nursing Officer is not coming to the party, and the expectation is that the office should be coordinating all nursing issues at the Health Ministry. Rahube indicated that transfers have been frozen, promotions stalled and they continue to lose nursing posts to other Ministries.

In a number of recommendations, BONU urged government to consider compensation and risk allowance for staff affected by COVID-19 related deaths and those infected. “COVID-19 has been declared an occupational health illness, in essence, the employer should facilitate its occupational health division, and there are lots of occupational health nurses who are wrongly deployed, who could be running such programs at the facilities.”

In regard to vaccinations, BONU underlined that there should be clear information relating to vaccines and they should be made accessible. “Local franchise manufacturing of vaccine could use Botswana Vaccines Institute (BVI) and government should be clear and transparent concerning procurement of vaccines. It should also allow stakeholders with capacities of procuring vaccines to do so.”

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Gov’t reforms public procurement

4th August 2021
-Masisi-Serame

Government is moving swiftly to completely overhaul public procurement — a new Bill has been tabled before Parliament this week by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame and is scheduled for debate in the coming days of the current parliament sitting. 

Through this Bill the country’s purse bearer seeks to dismantle existing public procurement pieces of legislation, transform, merge and form a new public procurement arrangement. The existing public procurement high command base — the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPDB) would cease to exist.

This organisation will transition and assume the reigns of a regulator and oversight authority; the actual procurement; floating of tenders, accepting bids, adjudicating and awarding tenders will be fully taken over by Government departments accounting officers.

Accounting officers are Permanent Secretaries and statutory organisation heads and directors or any person who is responsible for the administration and day-to-day management of the affairs of a procuring entity, and any other person, who may be designated as such by the Minister under the act.

Speaking to this Bill this week, Serame revealed that the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal arrangement will be merged with the local authority’s procurement Act.

“We will now have procurement under one roof, all overseen by accounting officers, it’s all government money coming from one port,” she said.

Minister Serame explained that PPADB will no longer be player and referee at the same time, with a view to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the regulation and management of public procurement processes.

According to Minister Serame, the new public procurement Act will promote competition among suppliers and contractors, and also provide for the fair, equal and equitable treatment of all suppliers and contractors.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT REGULATORY AUTHORITY 

Should parliament pass this bill the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) will transition into a new body called Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The new Authority will be  mandated with setting standards and practices for the public procurement system, regulate and control the public procurement system, ensure the application of fair, equitable, competitive, transparent, accountable, efficient, non-discriminatory, honest, value for money and public confidence in procurement standards and practices.

Furthermore the Authority will monitor and enforce compliance with the new Act and any relevant law by a procuring entity.

For standardization and  ensuring of world class procurement best practices the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will  monitor, assess, review and report on the performance of the public procurement system to the Minister and advise on desirable changes, and further issue standardized bidding documents to all procuring entities

This oversight and procurement regulator will conduct periodic inspections of the records and proceedings of a procuring entity to ensure compliance with the Act.

The regulator will institute periodically, in respect of any procurement —a procurement audit during a tender process, a contract audit in the course of execution of an awarded tender, a performance audit after the completion of a contract, and an investigation at any stage of a procurement process.

The Authority will continue to keep and maintain an up-to-date register of contractors, known as the “Contractors’ Register”, in works, services and supplies, or any combination thereof, however classified.

The new Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will be governed by a board of nine (9) non-executive directors appointed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

The Public Procurement Board will be charged with directing the affairs of the Authority. Day to day executive activities of the Public Procurement Authority will be run by a Chief Executive Officer who will be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the board.

PROCURING ENTITIES AND ACCOUNTING OFFICERS 

The actual procurement will now be handled by the Accounting Officers who will lead their procuring entities. The entities will consist of the procurement oversight unit, a procurement unit, an ad hoc Evaluation Committee, the user Department; or any other appropriate structure put in place by the Government.

The Accounting Officer will be in charge of establishment of appropriate procurement structures to undertake the procurement functions under the new act, which shall be staffed at an appropriate level in line with the model structure issued by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The Accounting Officer will also be charged with establishment, as may be prescribed, of a committee within a procuring entity which will oversee procurement activities, establishment, as may be prescribed, of an oversight committee to monitor procurement activities in a procuring entity.

The primary role of the Accounting Officers will be adjudication and award of tenders, including the adjudication of a bid recommendation submitted to him/her through a procurement oversight unit.

The Accounting officer will have powers to cancel a tender process and reject a tender offer at any time prior to entering into a contract, in the manner as may be prescribed, and the Accounting Officer shall not compensate the bidder of a tender that has been cancelled.

Under this proposed Act new set of regulations and guidelines will direct procurement complaints and appeals.

COMPLAINTS & TENDER DISPUTES

A procuring entity  will, after the publication of an award decision — allow a cooling-off period of 10 days in order for the procuring entity to receive and address complaints, if any, from any contractor who is aggrieved by the award decision; and not enter into a contract relating to the award before the expiration of a cooling period.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a breach of any provision of this Act or claims to have suffered or is likely to suffer loss or damages due to a breach of a duty imposed on a procuring entity shall, at the first instance, lodge a complaint before an Accounting Officer for review.

A contractor who lodges a complaint shall have the right to participate in the review proceedings before an Accounting Officer. A contractor who fails to participate in the review proceedings shall be barred from subsequently lodging the same complaint.

Under this proposed Act an Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint after a contract has entered into force. After considering a complaint and determining that the complaint is a frivolous or vexatious complaint, Accounting Officer shall dismiss such complaint.

Notwithstanding subsection (1), an Accounting Officer may refer a complaint considered and determined to be frivolous or vexatious to the Tribunal for the Tribunal to take any appropriate action as may be prescribed.

An aggrieved person shall submit his or her complaint in writing to an Accounting Officer within 10 days from the date of the publication of an award decision by the Accounting Officer, relating to the complaint.

The Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint unless it is submitted to him/her within the period referred to under subsection.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a decision of an Accounting Officer may appeal to the Tribunal within 14 days from the date of the decision of the Accounting Officer.

Where a contract has been concluded by a procuring entity, based on an award decision of an Accounting Officer, the contract shall be irrevocable and its execution shall proceed without interruption whether the award decision by the Accounting Officer may in itself remain disputable by a contractor through the Tribunal.

Notwithstanding subsection (5), the Tribunal may suspend and subsequently revoke or terminate the execution of a contract if in the opinion of the Tribunal, sufficient evidence has been adduced to demonstrate that the execution of the contract may cause substantial loss to the public revenue or prejudicially affect public interest.

A complainant who wishes to lodge a complaint shall exhaust the dispute resolution processes provided in this Act before the complainant refers the complaint to a court.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT TRIBUNAL 

The Tribunal will be a body established independently from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, and shall constitute retired High Court judges or practicing attorneys who qualify to appoint high court judge.

The Tribunal shall adjudicate over any matter brought before it by a complainant for a breach of any of the provisions of this Act, or any appeal brought in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

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COVID-19 hits hard on BITC

4th August 2021
BITC

The COVID-19 pandemic which weakened world economies had left a devastating impact on Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) existence in 2020. According to the group’s 2019/2020 Annual Report, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was sluggish for the first two quarters at P126 million and P426.96 million respectively. They then took an upward trajectory in Q3 and 4 at P1396 million and P1456 million respectively.

The year closed with a reduced performance at 73% for Q4. According to the financial report, export earnings opened the year at 83% which is approximately P671 million, before dropping to 81% (P1299.55 million). However, Quarter 3 experienced a slight rise in performance to 82%, or P1978.42 million before a drop in performance to close Quarter 4 at P74.9%, which was P2403.91 million.

Even if that is the case, the Centre continued to promote local investors by facilitating for local entrepreneurs to produce and find markets for their products both locally and internationally. The trend for Domestic Investment/Expansions indicated a continual upward performance surge from Quarter 1 through Quarter 4.

In percentage points, performance results reflected opening of 93% performance followed by a dip in performance to 82% Quarter 2, and then an increase to 100% in Quarter 3 and closing performance of 84.2% in Quarter 4.

For this financial year under review, BITC posted solid financial results with a surplus of P872.968, representing a decline from the previous year’s surplus of P13.991.337. The Centre started on track from the beginning of the financial year with successful execution of activities planned for the year.

However, following the subsequent onset of COVID-19 in the last quarter for the financial year, a few of the activities were negatively affected resulting from restricted cross border transfers. The impact is expected to be severe in the following financial year, especially on the Centre’s financial statements, clearly reflecting the negative impact of COVID-19.

In the financial year ended March 2020, BITC received a total subvention of P96.504.860 which represents a 5% decrease from the previous year’s subvention of P101.830.560. the Grant subvention received for the past 5 years has not been constant due to the financial constraints that the government has experienced over the years which prompted for alignment of financial resources to cover the Centre’s strategic imperatives.

For the year under review BITC’s annual FDI capital inflows realised stood at P1.456 billion against an annual target of P2 billion, which is largely attributable to more than expected performance from the Financial Services sector. The total Domestic Investment for the period was P875.5 million against the set stretched target of P952 million. The total number of jobs registered by the organisation during the year under review was 3329, against an annual target of 3340.

BITC ACHIEVEMENTS

Notwithstanding that, BITC realised high level achievements for the year under review. Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile said facilitated to establish the Selibe-Phikwe citrus project, which has a job creation expectation of 1000 vacancies as well as the expansion of Kromberg and Shubert Company through the allocation of land for construction of 7000 square metres factory to manufacture wire harness for Mercedes Benz, with over 800 jobs expected this year.

Further, the Centre continued to deliver improved investor facilitation services to both local and foreign investors through the Botswana one Stop service centre (BOSSC). “BOSSC houses relevant government departments under one roof to provide prompt, efficient and transparent services to investors. The services offered by this Centre have grown from slightly above 130 applications for government authorisation in 2013 to 752 in the year under review,” said Olebile.

BITC continued to monitor Botswana’s performance in global competitiveness indicators such as the World Bank’s ease of Doing Business Index. “In an endeavour to improve the investor facilitation mechanism in the country, we have motivated for the drafting of a Business Facilitation Law, which will expedite the setting up and operations of businesses in Botswana.”

ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION DRIVE

BITC continued to respond to government’s call to stimulate direct investment and growth of local companies by procuring goods and services from locally based manufactures and services providers. The message to promote locals to actively grow the national economy has been driven through campaigns such as ‘PushaBW’ which utilised an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach. As at March 2020, local purchases constituted 84% (2019:85%) of the total procurement with foreign purchases at 16% (2019:15%).

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