Contractors initially qualfied for P5000 jobs only
The Government has upgraded construction categories that cater largely for citizen contractors under the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) tendering procedures. The decision has elevated local contractors to qualify for multi-million Pula tenders.
Local Contractors have always complained that the PPADB procedures discriminated against local small contractors. It was a view held mostly by citizen contractors that most jobs tendered under the PPADB were mostly rated above the categories of OC, A, B and C – which effectively ruled out small contractors, who in most cases are citizens, from competing. The top notch categories usually attract the interests of well established companies, mostly foreign, with a healthy balance sheet.
PPADB has six categories of building and civil engineering contractors. Category OC, A and B have been reserved for citizens while C, D and E include foreign firms.
The contractors, it is understood, have over time been engaging the government on the several issues including upgrading, projects unbundling, and slow payments among others.
The PPADB has revealed that with these changes the OC category which was pegged at P5000, will now be upgraded to P1.5 Million. Category A has moved from P1.6 Million to P3 Million while category B was increased from P3 Million to P7.2 Million.
The top categories have also been elevated as category C has been moved from P7 Million to P12 Million; while category D has been moved from P14 Million to P30 Million.
Contractors have welcomed the Government’s intervention.They urged the government to also consider some of the concerns that they continue to raise.
Sources say the former Vice-President who the contractors summoned over the issues sometime last year has been instrumental in urging the industry captains to heed the contractors complaints.
Contractors are happy that some barriers which hindered some from entering the industry have been removed. They said it is a positive step as it shows that the government is committed to reviewing some of the silly and unnecesary demands set for contractors. They however said compliance by District Councils over various issues is still a challenge that neds to be addressed.
A critical meetings was held at the Office of the President last year attended by Kedikilwe; PPADB Executive Chairperson, Bridget John; then Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Eric Molale; permanent secretaries from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology; and senior officials from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and that of Transport and Communications.
“We earnestly request our government to consider bailing out the contractors by creating a Construction Fund which will assist Batswana contractors in this regard,” they wrote in a letter to the leaders.
The contractors also requested that all major construction and maintenance works be done by citizen local contractors to alleviate poverty and unemployment.”We request that 70% of jobs be reserved to 100% Batswana citizen contractors and 30% be reserved for general tendering to include also foreign contractors,” reads the letter.
The contrators said they want to show the government that they are capable to undertake all the works in their own country through the idea on unbundling of the projects.
They wrote: “We came up with the idea of unbundling of projects which we are happy that the government has embraced, however we are still not happy about the awarding process by government and we had previously proposed that government should award projects to the association which in turn will on rotational basis award to its 100% citizen contractors but we still feel this should be the way to do in order to empower Batswana and keep the economy in the hands of Batswana.”
All projects from Government, parastatals and the private sector that government has a stake in, according to Citizen contractors, should consider allocating a proportion of their work to small citizen contractors. “Such jobs would be given to the Association which will in turn allocate jobs on a rotational basis to its members and these jobs should be excluded from tendering,” they proposed.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.