Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka has cried foul of the business community saying the private sector is not collaborative when it comes to government‘s efforts geared towards empowering Batswana through procurement.
Delivering the 2020/21 Budget Speech on Monday, Dr Matsheka said Government is concerned that, despite the efforts to empower Batswana through procurement, prices charged by the private sector for purchase of goods and services by Government are substantially higher than the market prices. “This means that Government does not get value for money. Therefore, the private sector needs to appreciate that by so doing, they are depriving the public of essential services that are expected to be provided by Government,” he said.
Government procurement is worth around P15 billion annually. This is predominantly administered by Public Procurement & Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) as the body that receives bids, evaluates, adjudicates and allocates mega tenders. Amongst other goods and services acquired under the government procurement system is infrastructure development, medical and pharmaceutical services, supplies of goods, services and other works.
In an interview with WeekendPost on the sidelines of the budget speech Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Executive Chairperson Elijah Motshedi said his organization is well aware of exorbitant charges that government is subjected to by business owners. “We have noted this trend and it cuts across the entire procurement space whether supplies, works or services, when it comes to government the prices are hiked way beyond market threshold,” he said.
Motshedi explained that according to several studies undertaken by his organization it has emerged that several reasons contributes to this trend. “One of the findings from our assessment is that government payments process takes too long , thus services providers price for that as part of the risk , encompassing the fact that during a longer payment duration rates may also go up.”
The PPADB Boss added that bidders also price for longer tendering period taking into account that some government tendering processes can take longer and stretch to even a year “Bidders will then say by the time the tender closes rates may have gone increased , thus they price for that resulting in exorbitant charges,” he said. Elijah Motshedi reiterated that PPADB has since highlighted these inefficiencies on the part of government to authorities. “We indicated to Government that these impediments in the procurements system have significant contribution to this increasing and worrying trend of above market price charges.
On the part of private sector Motshedi explained that the business community has also been addressed to make them aware of acceptable charges “ we have a price guide in place that we communicate to our service providers to say let’s not rip off and take government for a ride with over 100 % profits charges,” he said.
PPADB has also included in the proposed review of PPAD act a bid to enable the board to negotiate prices “Currently after earmarking a bidder we cannot negotiate prices, this is not helping and we are hoping the proposed amendment once passed and approved into law will assist with making sure government funds are not depleted with these exorbitant charges.
CITIZEN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT LAW
Finance Minister however underscored that government is committed to citizen economic empower against all odds. Matsheka revealed that Government is currently formulating a law on citizen economic empowerment to support the existing Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) policy. “Over the years, Government has embraced citizen empowerment in its development planning process because of the low citizen participation in economic development in the country.”
Minister Matsheka noted that among the existing initiatives, include citizen reservation, where only 100 percent citizen owned companies are eligible to participate; price preference where citizen owned companies, joint ventures/associations of citizens and non-citizens and local companies are eligible for preference; and mandatory subcontracting to citizen owned companies.
The other existing citizen economic initiatives include: the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), where procurement is reserved for local manufacturers and service providers regardless of citizenship; Local Procurement Scheme (LPS), which facilitates economic development in rural areas using public procurement in line with the CEE Policy.
The objective is to empower women, youth and people living with disability in general, and specifically in the rural areas in line with Section 66(3) of the PPAD Act. The Scheme also introduces preference in tenders within the District Administration Tender Committees (DATC) threshold, whether administered by the DATC or Ministerial Tender Committees (MTC).
The Scheme requires that a 20 percent target quota be reserved for the target groups in all tenders above the micro procurement financial threshold, but within the DATC financial threshold at all districts country wide. Minister Matsheka reiterated that despite the existence of these schemes, effective citizen participation in some sectors of the economy has not been satisfactory, hence the decision to move from policy to a law to ensure effectiveness in application and implementation of the citizen economic empowerment agenda.
He explained that the law will address the inequalities of the past by transferring the country’s wealth to disadvantaged Batswana, thereby allowing for more participation of citizens in the economy. Dr Matsheka shared that Government has developed a Consolidated Framework for Empowerment Programmes. A key feature of this Framework is the proposal to separate economic empowerment programmes and social upliftment schemes, which will be critical in promoting entrepreneurship development and enterprise development.
The Framework acknowledges the relevance and importance of social upliftment towards developing sustainable livelihood. “However, this model puts more emphasis on entrepreneurship to address unemployment, economic growth, poverty eradication and economic diversification,” he said
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.