Ntuane against awarding of big gov’t tenders to foreign companies
President Lt Gen Ian Khama publicly differed with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane at the party’s Special Congress as he defended government’s decision to continue awarding tenders to Chinese owned companies.
Following Khama’s speech announcing that government will draw funds from foreign reserves in a bid to stimulate the economy across various sectors, Ntuane later expressed concern that government was more charitable to foreign owned companies in awarding tenders at the expense of citizens.
Ntuane, a proponent of citizen economic empowerment, gave the example of the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, a foreign owned institution, where he said government is spending millions by sponsoring students to study at the institution, and the entire profit is taken offshore since locals do not have a stake in it. “For the Majority of these companies that set-up shop in Botswana, you cannot do business in their home countries if you don’t partner with locals,” stated Ntuane.
Ntuane is of the view that big projects should be joint ventures and also remarked that it is important that government ensures that Batswana assume centre stage in public procurement.
When responding to Ntuane’s remarks, Khama who admitted that he does not like differing with Ntuane publicly said government will not compel foreign owned companies to partner with citizens. “We are encouraging investors to come to Botswana,” he said.
Khama said opportunities have been availed to citizen owned companies but a lot of them continue to disappoint. “To what extent are we going to nurse them?” Khama asked rhetorically. “I do not want Batswana to ride on the back of the Chinese.”
Khama said Batswana should not be cry babies and have themselves to blame because even when preferential opportunities are given to them they don’t utilise them. Khama pointed out at a number of worrying instances where projects awarded to citizen contractors were abandoned before completion.
Khama however expressed concern with Chinese companies which come to Botswana and employ their nationals at the expense of the citizens. Khama said Chinese are welcome if they are going to create jobs for Batswana. “I know foreigners are complaining about permits but I am not here to create jobs for Chinese, but for Batswana.”
Ntuane who is clearly not a big fan of Chinese contractors has been consistent in his call for citizen empowerment. In 2011, as the Leader of Opposition, when responding to the Budget Speech, Ntuane pointed out that government preaches citizen economic empowerment, but it was obvious the rhetoric did not measure up to practice.
The former legislator then observed that citizen-owned contractors were collapsing at an alarming rate because the Chinese had taken over as he said the Chinese undertake every project of significance.
There has been a misgiving on the competence of Chinese companies and their ability to deliver big projects on budget and on time. A majority of big projects including the P11 Billion World Bank and African Development Bank funded Morupule B, were not able to be completed on time. This has also recently sparked some sort of diplomatic tensions between the two governments.
Currently there are 16 Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) operating in Botswana, 13 of which are top construction companies, all of the construction contractors being ranked at the top grade granted by the PPADB. PPADB has a contractor grading ceiling in which companies are graded into different categories depending on the experience of the company, qualifications of its employees and equipments/assets the company has to determine the magnitude of tenders they can be awarded.
The threshold of tenders a company can be awarded falls under the following categories are; Grade OC (P1.5 million), Grade A (P4 million), Grade B (20 million), Grade C (P40 million), Grade D, (P85 million) while Grade E has an unlimited threshold. All the Chinese SOEs are grade at E, which means they are awarded the biggest tenders.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.