CBD rentals added P142 million on Gov’t bill
An additional rental amount of over P142 Million has been piled on the government bill after two Ministries, Youth, Sports and Culture and that of Trade and Industry moved to the Gaborone Central Business District (CBD) and signed lease agreements with landlords without the authority of the Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), the Auditor General, Pulane Letebele has discovered.
In June 2013, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture signed a rental contract amounting to P81 228 890 for a period of five years, while the Trade Ministry signed its contract of P60 784 200 which runs for the same period in December 2012. Both contracts are far beyond the authority level of the MTC of P25 000 000 and according to the AG, the matters should have been referred to PPADB.
“This is yet another instance where Public officers flagrantly disregard clearly laid down rules, resulting in Public Funds being spent without proper authorities even where large sums of money, calling for extreme care and diligence are involved. This state of affairs continues to be a matter for concern by the PAC,” The AG expressed his concern.
In his latest report on the government accounts, the AG penned down his frustrations and that of the Public Accounts committee at officers who continue wasting the tax payers’ money unnecessarily.
In the instance of the Youth Ministry, a lease mentioned earlier was agreed following negotiations and the AG does not understand how the amount was reached when originally the Landlord tendered a lesser amount of P77 523 264.
“The enhanced rental payment from negotiations comparative to the bid amount is a clear indication of the laxity with which public officers handle their financial duties which in this case has resulted in loss of considerable sums of money. Unless and until officers advert themselves diligently, the public revenue will suffer losses through wasteful expenditure and this is a matter for concern of this office and of the Public Accounts Committee,” the AG further noted.
As a result of what appeared to have been improper lease of the office block occupied by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in the CBD , the PPADB instituted a tender audit to establish the circumstances of that tender, in terms of section 52 (2) of the PPADB Act.
The audit according to Letebele, established that having reached the decision to house all its five departments under one roof to achieve a smooth coordination of its functions, the Ministry had in August 2012, proceeded to issue an invitation to tender for the lease of an office block for a period of five years. The response to that invitation was only one bidder who had offered three rental options, ranging from P1 579 177 per Month at the top which included the cost of partitioning to P1 076 712 at the lowest for an open plan flooring all inclusive of value added tax (VAT).
Upon evaluation the Ministerial team had recommended the first option of P1 578 177 to the MTC. The committee had, however varied this recommendation in favour of the second option of P1 292 054 on the basis that the cost of partitioning was a one-off event which should not be spread over the entire lease period. Thus the approval of the tender by the committee was in the amount of P1 292 054 per month, translating to P77 523 264 over the entire lease period.
Subsequent to the tender approval by the MTC, the Ministry requested the Ministry of Lands and Housing to engage the landlord in price negotiations and finalisation of the lease agreement. Resulting from that, the lease was finally signed at a Monthly rental of P1 208 763, translating to P81 228 890.
MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Meanwhile another study of documentation relating to the lease of an office block by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the CBD indicated that such lease was not with the approval of the PPADB in terms of the predetermined expenditure authority level.
As far back as 2011, the Ministry had determined that it was essential for the Ministry Headquarters and all its five departments to be housed in one office block to reduce administrative costs, enhance operational efficiency and service delivery to customers.
The Ministry officers then set on a search for suitable accommodation and identified an office block in the CBD which was recommended to the Ministry of lands and Housing on the advice of the Ministerial Tender Committee for rental and lease negotiations in March 2011. However in August of the same year, before the response of the Lands Ministry, the Ministry withdrew its earlier recommendations in favour of another office block, still in the CBD on the basis that the rental of the first block was too high.
The lease was finally procured with the developers of the second block office and lease agreement signed in December 2012 for a five year period ending November 2017 at a monthly rental of P 1 013 070, on the authority of approval of the MTC. However the total rental for the 5 year period amounted to P60 784 200, was far beyond the expenditure threshold of P25 000 000 appropriate to the committee.
When the matter came to the notice of the PPADB, the board instituted an audit to determine the circumstances of this award. The board audit found that in adjudicating over this tender, the MTC had failed in its duty to adhere to its expenditure limits and to advise the Ministry as the procuring entity to refer the matter to PPADB as the appropriate level of approval for the expenditure involved.
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The roles of PAP committees explained
Permanent Committees of the Pan African Parliament facilitate the effective implementation of the policies and objectives of the OAU/AEC.
The PAP Permanent Committees roles were eloquently explained by the PAP President Hon. Chief Fortune Zephania Charumbira whenÂ giving a presentation on the mandate of the permanent committees of the PAP on Tuesday in Midrand, South Africa. Charumbiraâ€™s words of encouragement come on the backdrop of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) members are attending the PAP Permanent Committee meetings that started on March 5-9 in Midrand, South Africa.
The mandate of PAP is to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent, therefore the permanent committees provide oversight to ensure effective implementation of policies.
According to Charumbira, effective implementation will drive the Africa Agenda 2063, African Continental Free Trade Area, AU Shared Values, Flagship Projects such the Inga Dam Project, Single African Air Transport Market, among others; and further facilitate attainment of AU Theme of the Year: â€śThe Year of AFCTFTA: Accelerating the AFCFTA Implementationâ€ť.
Relatedly, the objectives of the Pan-African Parliament promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa; encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member States; Promote peace, security and stability; Contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery; Facilitate cooperation and development in Africa; Strengthen Continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among the peoples of Africa; and Facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities and their Parliamentary fora.
THE PAP PERMANENT COMMITTEES
(a) The Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment;
(b) The Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs;
(c) The Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters;
(d) The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions;
(e) The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology;
(f) The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs;
(g) The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources;
(h) The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability;
(i) The Committee on Justice and Human Rights;
(j) The Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline;
The Committees shall handle business that is ordinarily handled by the corresponding Specialized Technical Committee responsible to the Executive Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitutive Act.
SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEES
As for the specific functions of the committees, the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment amongst other functions: Considers the development of common regional and continental policies in agricultural sector; Assists the Parliament to oversee and assist with the harmonization of policies for rural and agricultural development; and promotes the development policy and the implementation of programs of the Union relating to natural resources and environment.
On the other hand, the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs shall, amongst others: Examines the draft estimates of the Parliamentary budget and submit to Parliament; Discusses the budget of the Union and make appropriate recommendations; Examines and report to Parliament on the problems involved in the implementation of the annual budget; and Assists Parliament to execute its role of establishing sound economic, monetary and investment policies.
Meanwhile the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters amongst other roles: Considers matters relating to development of sound policy for cross-border, regional and continental concerns within the areas of trade, customs and immigration; Assists the Parliament to oversee relevant organs or institutions and policies of the Union; and Helps the Parliament to oversee external trade.
The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of an efficient policy in matters of cooperation and international relations of the Parliament and the Union; Deals with the conventions and protocols linking the Parliament with regional and international institutions and report to the Parliament; Carries out examinations on the revision of Protocols and Treaties of the Union; Assists the Parliament in its efforts of conflict prevention and resolution.
The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of transport and communications infrastructure; Assists Parliament to oversee the development and implementation of policies of the Union relating to transport, communication, science and technology and industry; Considers issues relating to the use of science and technology for the development of the Continent; Helps Parliament to supervise the development policies and the Union implementation programs for matters of industry, science, technology and energy.
The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs deals with strategies and programs for the improvement of the lives of African peoples; Considers issues relating to regional and international cooperation in strategic planning and implementation of social development and health policies and programs.
The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of human resources in Member States;Assists Parliament to promote policy development and implementation of programs of the Union relating to access to education, promotion and preservation of culture and tourism and human resource development.
The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the promotion of gender equality; Assists
I cannot reconcile with Khama – Guma
For the second time now, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting turned into a tribalistic boardroom brawl which turned violet and was ultimately capped off with a resignation from one member of the NEC.
Samson Moyo Guma decided to leave the party after a heated exchange with the party patron Lt Gen Ian Khama who attended the Monday meeting at Arirang virtually. The meeting, according to insiders, started on a good footing with President Biggie Butale asking about the venue of their much anticipated congress.
However, things turned nasty as Butale, after the venue discussion was concluded, asked some NEC members to stop attacking the party in public. The accused included the patron, Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Secretary General. It is then that, Guma pleaded with the patron to always liaise with President Butale before he can issue out any public statement, especially about the party, as the two work together.
â€śGuma then asked Patron to comment, Khama said he did not have any comment. But Guma then told patron to always inform Butale about anything he intends to do, and that is when all hell broke loose.Â Â Khama went berserk, he accused Butale of being a thief who stole party money and accused both of them of being captured and sent by the BDP to destabilize the party. Guma then told him to stop being abusive and that they will not tolerate his autocracy and the whole meeting turned chaotic as some NEC members of Ngwato origin now defended Khama,â€ť said one NEC member who attended the meeting.
Guma was riled according to meeting attendees, and decided to walk out of the meeting and subsequently decided to resign his membership. Butale was also annoyed by the stance taken by some to defend the patron on the basis of being their paramount chief, and he too decided to leave the meeting but did not quit the party. This was after a violet attack between some NEC members. Butale is currently nursing the injuries he sustained when he tried to intervene in a fist fight.
Before all these scenes, one of the agenda items was to suspend the NEC members who disparage other members and the party in public. Failure to execute the plan frustrated both Butale and Guma.
In an interview following a tense meeting that led to his resignation, Guma said the difference between him and Khama is huge and irreconcilable. â€śI cannot reconcile with him, in fact, no one can reconcile with Khama,â€ť Guma toldÂ WeekendpostÂ before he continued. â€śHe should maybe reconcile first with President Mokgweetsi Masisi that is when we can see if it is doable. But for now, I am at peace. I have left him with his party, but I am with the UDC now.â€ť
Some in the party say the party will regret the departure of some key members such as Guma eventually. â€śWe are losing people who add quality to the party. Guma has assisted us with a printing machine for membership cards as well as assisting meaningfully to pay office rent, but since he is gone, we might be in for a hard time.â€ť
The two are, however, expected to meet at Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) as the BPF congress will ratify the NEC decision to join the main opposition party. Once they ratify, and if Khama is elected President, he will find Guma in the UDC. However, it is not clear what role Guma will serve in the UDC.
Guma and Khama have been trading blows once it became apparent that the former will contest for the BPF Presidency. Khama wanted anyone else but Guma. Khama’s political wisdom told him no one can beat Guma in the party in the race for the party leadership, but Khama was not confortable with the idea of Guma becoming the leader of the party he founded. Khama then decided to put on political garments and declared his candidature to lead the party. This is contrary to his unclesâ€™ advice to stay away from politics, especially the BPF Presidency.
Khama’s opposition to Guma leading BPF has opened a can of worms, as some believe it corroborates the popular hypothesis saying the party is the project of the Khamas and no one will be allowed to lead it. One political observer opines that, if Guma or Butale could be allowed to lead the party without any interference, it will increase its footprint in the North East, which help in making it a mainstream party, as opposed to the current perfection that it is a Bangwato project.
The BPF has had a turbulent time ever since its patron, who is also a former President, Khama, relocated to South Africa. He said acts of indiscipline and deep divisions rocked the party, something which irked him.
The partyâ€™s NEC is set to convene this weekend in Phikwe, but contents of the meeting are a secret.
More nurses heading for the UK
According to a report, the number of nurses leaving Botswana for better-paying jobs in the United Kingdom has increased significantly. This development has the potential to negatively impact the country’s struggling health sector.
Kenosi Mogorosi, the publicity secretary of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), in a letter addressed to union members on March 22, 2023, provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors that have affected the country’s nursing fraternity.
Through an agreement with the National Health Service (NHS), BONU was able to help facilitate the transfer of nurses from Botswana to the UK.
In a letter to the country’s nurses, Mogorosi stated that the recruitment firms Swift Trust and NEU Professionals would be coming to the country to look for 20 adult medical health nurses each.
â€śSubmission of CVâ€™s will be done at Lobatse Cumberland hotel on the 27th of March 2023 and Gaborone BONU offices on the 28 March 2023. Subsequently conducting interviews at Lobatse Cumberland Hotel on the 3rd April 2023 and Gaborone Hilton Garden Hotel on the 4th April 2023,â€ť said Mogorosi.
He added that â€śThis comes short notice because the trust is already in Southern Africa and could not reach its target in Zambia, hence coming to Botswana. All nurses who will be shortlisted for interviews should ensure that they mention that they were referred by BONU for easy coordination of sponsorship including English language tests.â€ť
He also stated that â€śSince its short notice, nurses need not to travel from far places hence nurses around Lobatse and Gaborone can ensure they do submit their CVS.â€ť
BONU is also working with the UK’s NHS to help its members secure jobs overseas as the country is going through a recruitment drive to address its shortage of 40,000 nurses.
This will increase the nursing vacancy rate in Botswana, which currently stands at over 30%. It is expected to further cripple the country’s already struggling health sector.
Last year, the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) said it offered roles to more than 60 nurses from Botswana. The Recruitment team at EPUT spent eight days in Botswana interviewing hundreds of nurses interested in a career with the NHS. Nesta Williams, Director of Workforce Transformation and International Recruitment, at the time said said: â€śWeâ€™re delighted that 66 nurses have chosen to take the next step in their nursing career with EPUT.”
â€śThe interview panel was impressed by the applicantsâ€™ commitment to their patients, understanding of good team working, and their approach to providing excellent care.
â€śSome of the nurses are trained in both mental health and physical health, and this means they could choose to work in a range of services.â€ť
The NHS’s clinical workforce is the largest in the world. Nurses play a vital role in delivering person-centered care.
Professor Natalie Hammond, Executive Nurse, said: â€śThe last two years of the pandemic have been extremely challenging. A robust nursing workforce helps us provide safe care, meet the needs of our communities, and is key to achieving our vision be the leading health and wellbeing service in the provision of mental health and community care.”
â€śItâ€™s an exciting time; our EPUT clinicians will have opportunities to share their experience and expertise with our new colleagues from Botswana.â€ť
A recruitment team of the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust spent eight days in Botswana two weeks ago during which they say they interviewed â€śhundreds of applicantsâ€ť who want to work in the UK.
In the first round of their recruitment campaign in Botswana, the NHS had hired 66 nurses from the huge parade of applicants and revealed that more recruitments are expected to follow.
Indications are that a nurse in England earns an average P52 000 per month; and the figure goes up to P70 000 for a nurse in Ireland and other places in the UK. In Botswana a registered nurse earns between P12 000 and P20 000.