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No Water: Investors directed north

Gaborone dam and Molatedi dam have been declared failed projects by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC)

Potential investors in the mining sector this week paid a courtesy visit to Botswana to solicit information on the business environment – in particular whether it’s currently conducive for conducting copper mining, WeekendPost can reveal.


This publication has gathered that the investors, who visited this country through a consultancy, want to set up a mining venture by processing copper into final products as it has been exported to other countries while raw.


It is understood that Business Botswana, formerly Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) facilitated their business visit as they viewed it as local investment opportunity despite the country going through water and power crises.

This publication has established that the investors will henceforth weigh their options of investing after gathering first hand and sufficient information on water as well as power conditions in the country.


“Yes it is true Business Botswana brought the investors here, and basically they are doing preliminary investigations in terms of trying to establish the business environment in Botswana especially with regard to the water state of affairs,” a highly classified source at Water Utilities revealed this week, while preferring not to mention the consultancy or names of the investors.


According to the top official, the investors want to establish where they can position the mining venture in terms of water status. The investors are said to have also come to meet different stakeholders like Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), Mining companies, Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) among others; as they try to explore chances of investment.


“We need to give them facts in this regard. We need to tell them the truth about the current situation we are facing as well as how we are stabilizing the water situation,” the WUC highly placed source indicated.

“So in our view what matters is where they place their investment. If they intend to place it in the south for sure they will face difficulties as severe water crises is felt in the south.”

He said if government is to attract investors, it needs to inject more funds into various projects by Water Utilities so as to help improve the water situation, and at the same time bridging the unemployment gap.


According to the source, funding either from government, loans or private sector remains a big issue in the matter as the corporation continuously tries to lure them to invest in the water sector so as to implement their projects line up and ultimately reach water security. The country has been plunged with a worsening water crises situation and last week it reached an all-time low level – a predicament the immaculate source who sits in the Corporation executive confesses.


According to a WUC statement, Bokaa dam has almost dried up following Gaborone dam which has absolutely dried up at the moment.

“Bokaa dam is currently at 3.5% and might fail at any time. The failure of Bokaa dam will translate into reduced supply as well as a loss of one more source of water for the Greater Gaborone area, following the failure of Gaborone dam – which dried up completely in December 2014,” WUC Corporate Communications Manager Matida Mmipi said in a statement released last week.

As a result, Mmipi states that, with effect from today (Saturday), water rationing days will be intensified from three to four days a week in Gaborone – a move the investors might find arduous for business.


Currently, she said, the Greater Gaborone area’s sources of water are the Bokaa dam, Molatedi dam (also on line to dry up) and the North South Carrier 1 (NSC 1) which transfers water from Dikgatlhong dam to the South. Bokaa dam currently produces 19 million litres a day and NSC 1 harvests 60 million litres a day while Molatedi dam churns out 9.7 million litres per day.

However the Greater Gaborone area’s average water demand is said to be standing at 125 million litres a day. This therefore means the area is running on a water deficit of 37.7 million litres a day and this is expected to drop further, due to the anticipated close down of Bokaa in a few weeks.  
In addition, and as a matter of fact, the source told Weekend Post that Bokaa dam is virtually considered failed and Molatedi dam is going down loose as well. “To tell you the truth our hopes are now on rainfall – that is where we can get the water,” he pointed out.

Apart from that he hinted that they put their last hope on the Masama West Well-fields project which is on the offing but would take almost 12 months to be operational. Masama project, which is currently being tested, will augment water to the Greater Gaborone area, and when fully functional it will inject 30 million litres into the NSC 1 a day to water Greater Gaborone area. Masama is 100km from Gaborone en-route Francistown.


Meanwhile NSC 1 which transmits water from the second largest dam, Dikgatlhong, after Gaborone dam feeds the northern part of the country, and additionally augments the south in the current arrangement. In the south the water crises is attributed to flat land and high rate of evaporation.

It is also understood that NSC 1 was never implemented to solve the water problem in the south completely but to augment it, as Greater Gaborone cannot rely on dams from the north as they will eventually dry up, even faster, too.


Information gathered also suggests that Water Utilities is looking for a fourth pump station to push more water to the South with more pressure. With more water in the pipeline, there is likelihood of a breakdown and the fourth pump would serve as back up (spare). The simple logic is that when one pump is down the other would be running.


Although the pipelines used for NSC 1 are said to be of sub-standard material, the project is fully built and now functional. “The Pipelines materials are not exactly what we wanted, we needed steel,” the immaculate source highlighted.

Currently, there is an ongoing project to replace the entire 26 km pipeline as there are already a number of leaks (around 7 to 8) in it. “These leaks cannot be repaired, the repair would take longer as water would have to be drained out of the pipeline (and it’s huge) followed by excavation and then the repairing, so the whole pipeline needs to be replaced. That is why this project is running parallel to the pipeline.”

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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