Office of the president concludes move to Orapa House
The President and his staff will finally relocate to the highly secure Orapa House. The move to the new office has been a topic of discussion for the past two years, with much debate centreing on the ownership of the building and its worth.
The move however comes with a litany of conditions and questions.
At the core, is whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning overode a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying own property.The buidling was to be bought at a cost of a negotiated P79 million.
In 2012 the then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi withdrew his request in Parliament for funds to buy Orapa House from De Beers after details emerged that the building could be owned by the Botswana government.
Masisi advised the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo to take up the matter and investigate it. Masisi told Weekend Post this week that “the house has been fully paid for by the government and now belongs to the government.”
The PSP Cater Morupisi however said he was not in a position to say whether the building had been purchased or not. “We are still in the process of doing so but you may reach out to the secretary to the President.”He said the matter that was before Parlaiment had been dealt with “as we went back and corrected the said budgetary issues”.
The procuring entity,The Ministry of Infrastructure,Science and Technology and Public Procurement and Assert Disposal Board have according to a PPADB document before Weekendpost, taken a decision that only four companies namely Murray & Roberts, Landmark Projects, Stefanutti Stocks and Katz Holdings (pty) Ltd are eligible to refurbish the envisaged State President Ministry – Orapa House. One of the bidders Murray & Roberts also happens to the constructor of Orapa House which was contructed over decades ago.
WeekendPost can reveal that there has been a series of meetings over who should be invited for the 11 000 m2 floor space building refurbishment after the President gave the project caretakers a word that “things should be done properly”.By this heavily loaded statement, the caretakers understood the President to mean that stern measures should be put in place to avoid the growing catastrophical culture of structural failures and unneccesary over expenditures.
The President has in the past spoken strongly against some Chinese contractors whom he has repeatedly accused of ruining the country’s developmental agenda.The Chinese, popularly known for their insatiable appetite and qualifications for mega projects will not be able to bid and rebuild the President’s office as the tender number PR 9/3/3/14 (VIII) to refurbish the Orapa House was never gazetted.
The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefi could not shed more light on the project, as to why it wasn’t gazetted and what the refurbishing would entail. He refered this publication to his Permanent Secretary who could not provide answers at the time of going to press.
“My understanding is that the building, though structurally sound, there are a number of issues that should be addressed to restore the building and modify it to suit our requirements. I will not be able to respond to some of your questions right now as I do not sit in some of the meetings, please reach out to my PS,” he said.
His PS Dikagiso Mokotedi said the government has decided to buy the building and use it for accommodation. “We selected a few companies which we thought had the capacity to deal with the project. They are expected to give us their proposal time frames and other aspects for consideration,” he said.
Mokotedi said he doesn’t know what the current location of Office of the President is going to be used for once they relocate to Orapa House. “We were just called to assist with the renovations and other related structural issues,” he said.
The architecture of Orapa House is perfectly designed for grading diamonds taken from Botswana's diamond mines. Natural, rather than direct sunlight is essential for the sorting process.
In 2012 Masisi withdrew his proposal following a decision by the Finance and Estimates Committee not to approve the funds request and an intervention by Tati East Member of Parliament, Charles Tibone who argued that Botswana government may find itself buying a building that actually belonged to the tax payer already.
Government had wanted to buy the Orapa House for “a negotiated P79m” but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million. The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73,000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85,000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, wrote Thebe, the selling price was finally agreed at P79,000,000.
The 11000 square metres office building has been home to Botswana Diamond Valuing Company (BDVC), a subsidiary of De Beers and Debswana Diamond Company for several years. The building became vacant after Diamond Trading Company (DTC) relocated to the state of the art building along the airport road in Block 8.
THE PROPOSED OFFICES CONTRACTORS
Murray & Roberts Murray & Roberts, A South African company has been locally present and operated in Botswana for more than four decades, making a significant contribution to the development of the country during this period.
As a subsidiary of leading South Africa-based JSE listed engineering and contracting Group, Murray & Roberts, the company's core strength is its superior construction as well as construction management ability, with regard to structures requiring bricks and/or concrete materials, featuring a combination of scale, complexity and a design/build aspect.
Its project highlights include the Central Business District tallest building I-Tower Phase 1, Tati Nickel Mine, FNB Gaborone, Rail Park Mall, Airport Road Development Gaborone, Distribution Depot & Warehouses Gaborone, Jwaneng Mine Cut 8 Civils, Jwaneng Mine Slimes Dam No. 7, Bulk Diamond Sorting Centre (BDVC), Gaborone, FNB Francistown and Shashe River Bridge, Kalakamati. They also happen to be the builders of Orapa House.
Stefanutti Stocks Stefanutti Stocks is one of South Africa’s leading engineering and construction groups with an annual turnover in excess of R7 billion, over 9000 employees and the capabilities to deliver a range of projects of any scale to a multitude of clients in diverse markets.
Their operating sectors include Structures, Roads and Earthworks, Property and Concession, Mining Services, Mechanical, Electrical and Power, Interior fit-out and the Construction and Building sector. According to their website, their clients include governments, parastatals and local authorities, major mining houses, leaders of industry, large corporate groups, financial institutions and property developers.
The company is active in South Africa and across sub Saharan Africa including Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also active further abroad in the Middle East region.
The Botswana Building division has undertaken a variety of projects for both private and public sector clients. In 2003 they completed the remote Maun Hospital; they have completed numerous retail & leisure facilities and were also the proponents of the first office accommodation public private partnership in Botswana in 2007.
In South Africa they operate in structures, roads and earthworks, property and concessions, mining services, mechanical, electrical and power as well as the construction and building sector. In the Middle East region their operations cover interior fit-outs, refurbishments, electro-mechanical installations and construction.
Landmark Projects The company is headed by a Chinese, Mr Ben Liu but 100 percent citizen owned. Landmark has been delivering professional construction and development services for 16 years and its mission is to be nationally recognised as an excellent construction industry. The Company says its registration with PPADB as appended confirms its ability to take on projects of unlimited value in both general building and civil engineering industry.
The company’s previous clientele includes high profile Botswana businesses and government such as Pop INN, Botswana Power Corporation, BDC Pula projects, Charlton Electrical, Sasa Investments, DBES, Botswana Housing Cooperation, Jwaneng Town Council, Botswana Defence Force, Ministry of Works and Transport, Kgatleng District Council, Botswana Meat Commission, government and North West District Council.
Katz Holdings Efforts to reach out to Katz holdings were unsuccessful.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.