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Khama’s move to Orapa House finalised

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.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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