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The 170 billion Pula water jinx

Water needs P165 billion cash, wastewater needs P5 billion

With Botswana’s dam sites almost exhausted, the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) needs a whooping P170 billion to contain the water crisis threatening Botswana, WeekendPost can reveal.


In the recent past President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama had sanctioned the WUC to carry out a “comprehensive assessment of water and wastewater situation” in the country, and the results are nerve wrecking – vanishing water sources and huge financial implications.


According to the assembled report, which was then presented to not only Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources (MMEWR) but also to a full Cabinet last week, WUC conceded that “the water situation requires immediate attention and will need huge resources.”


A total amount of P170 billion is divided between water and wastewater interventions as well short, medium and long term solutions.


To ameliorate the water problem, the government will need P165 billion cash injection; while solutions aligned to wastewater will call for a total of P5 billion. Botswana’s budget as presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo this year stood at a sum of P50 billion, surely the country’s budget cannot finance the  P170 billion figure hence the need for private involvement to take control of the water situation in the country.


In the 2015 budget, the largest share of the development budget was allocated to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) at P3.32 billion or 25.7 percent of the budget. “This is meant to allow Government to continue to address the water and power issues facing the country by putting in place appropriate infrastructure,” reads part of the budget.


High placed sources at the WUC told this publication that efforts will be made to rope in the private sector to contribute to the water security situation in the country. “This is a developing process in the country,” one of the sources said. The WUC has advised that the Ministry and Government should consider partners in resolving matters such as Financing Infrastructure, introduction of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water sector; expertise in Project Implementation and Management; Robust operation and Maintenance; Job creation; and Citizen Empowerment.


Some of the top priority projects, North-South Carrier scheme upgrading works is estimated at P1.53 billion (funding available) and to be implemented from now till February 2017.


WUC is also embarking on the North-South Water Carrier 2.2 pipeline and associated works such as the Gaborone Wastewater reclamation plant and the Chobe/Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme at P66 billion and the implementation period is estimated at seven years but funds are not available. Other projects include Gaborone master plan, Lobatse Master plan, refurbishment of Mambo wastewater treatment works as well as Boteti southern and central cluster which will cost around P4 billion and will be executed over three years.


According to the report, other planned projects include National Water Loss Control Project, Letlhakane Wastewater, North East and Tutume Sub District, and Selibe Phikwe Serule Transfer Scheme which are scheduled to be implemented over a period of three years at a cost of P3 billion.


Reports reaching this publication suggest that Cabinet members were also reminded of key action points such as to “develop and enhance water governance – development of trade effluent agreement, development of the regulator, and enhancement of institutions.” Ministers were also informed that there is need to profile consumers against water quality required, e.g Agriculture and mining need less potable water for their operations.


In addition, “Reinforcing the culture of conversation and demand management is paramount. Huge consumers should recycle, e.g BMC, boarding schools, and, build water efficiency into building codes e.g all households to have rain water harvesting.”


The water situation report also analysed the 16 management centres across the country. The report looked at the national surface and groundwater sources against demand clusters prior to the 2008 water sector reforms. Cabinet was told that “only two management centres of Kanye and Lobatse are in a bad situation while Ghanzi, Tsabong and Masunga require closer monitoring – as their situation is also undesirable.”

 
Through a map, WUC illustrated that the Maun, Ghanzi, Lobatse and Kanye management centres have acute water supply deficit of more than 30%. “Basically the picture reflects extreme infrastructure deficits generally throughout the country.”


The report highlights that many parts of the country experience serious water loss ranging from 16% to 58% and these include parts of Tsabong, Kanye, Lobatse, Molepolole, Ghanzi, Maun, Kasane, Masunga, Serowe and Mochudi. The only areas that have acceptable water losses are Gaborone, Palapye, Francistown, Selebi Phikwe and Letlhakane management centres.


Records indicate that areas that currently have conventional sewerage systems are: Maun, Gaborone, Kasane, Ghanzi, Francistown, Selibe Phikwe, Tonota, Palapye, Serowe, Mahalapye, Shoshong, Bobonong, Mochudi, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, Gabane, Lobatse, Goodhope, Jwaneng, Ramotswa and Orapa.


“Out of these only Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Selibe Phikwe have huge potential for reclamation.” However they need to be refurbished and upgraded to improve efficiency, it is noted in the report.


According to the presentation made by the WUC, Trade Effluent Agreements need to be put in place to ensure pretreatment prior to discharging into the system e.g Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), tannery, poultry, and textiles. Effluent currently being discharged into the environment should be further treated for re-use. It is understood that the total quantity that can be reclaimed from these systems is 50% as minimum of treatment plant capacity.


How North South Carrier could fail
As at April 2015, the Gaborone dam was filled at a paltry 2.6% out of the 141.4 maximum capacity and has failed months of supply without inflow. Under normal circumstances, Molatedi dam (10ml), Bokaa dam (28ml), Nnywane dam (2.4ml), Ramotswa well field (5ml), Gaborone dam (74ml) and North-South Carrier 1 (60ml) make the total supply of 179.4ml to Greater Gaborone area. Gaborone peak demand is 145ml.


At present, excluding the Gaborone dam, the total supply of Gaborone water sits at 105.4 ml and therefore on a deficit of 39.6ml. In case, Masama East as a water source is included, the deficit will only be reduced to 19.6ml of deficit.


Moreover Gaborone water sources indicate that by 2016 the total supply of Gaborone water will be at 85ml with a deficit of 60ml. The water will come from Masama East, North-South Carrier, and the Ramotswa Well field.


It is also understood that without the North – South Carrier, by 2019 total available water will stand at 85ml hence a deficit of 112ml. Declining dam levels at Dikgatlhong and Letsibogo will lead to a failing North-South Carrier. Low or no rainfall will lead to Ramotswa not charging at all. But the general water situation will be determined by the amount of rain that falls over this period.


To achieve water security, a strategic shift is needed towards water demand management that both avoids future water shortages and keeps water affordable. Indications are that the available long term alternative is to use water from the Chobe Zambezi and link this with the North South Carrier as well as use water in the Nata River basin. However, both water sources are shared with other states, and the catch would be for Botswana to acquire consent of these countries, if the arrangement is to be carried through.


Botswana’s water demand is expected to be at 229 million cubic meters in 2020 and 286 million cubic meters in 2036. Demand is expected to outstrip supply in the near future hence water authorities are forced to come up with reasonable and plausible initiatives. Agriculture is the biggest water user in Botswana, accounting for 45 percent of all water used with the lowest productivity.

There is also going to be need for efficiency in water allocation – this could be implemented through the establishment of prioritized demand categories and quantities that are exempted for efficiency allocation process, and strict application of water efficiency guidelines to all other users.


Water lost through WUC supply system
Research indicates that one quarter of all water supply in Botswana is lost through the WUC distribution system. Industry players recommend that this must be reduced to the 15 percent set by the WUC. But the biggest problem according to the WUC cashflow analysis is that there is no funding available to implement the National Water Loss Control Project. 

To implement the Major Villages Network Rehabilitation and Land Servicing, WUC needs P150 million in 2015/16, P417 million in 2016/17, P475 million in 2017/18 and P400 million in 2018/19.  In addition Water Pressure Zoning needs an injection of P500 million in the same financial years; while Distribution Storage Reservoirs need P750 million between 2015 and 2019 financial years.

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

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