In an anticipated turn of events, the Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice President Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela is challenging the incumbent party President Duma Boko at the coming elective congress scheduled for July.
The congress comes few months after the just ended 2019 General Elections in which the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) failed to win power in the contentious elections. An affiliate of UDC, Botswana National Front (BNF) is the nucleus of the Umbrella party, and has been leading it since its official formation in 2012, and therefore very central in the shape and form of UDC.
Following a humiliating loss at the polls, Dibeela confirmed his intention to challenge Boko in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost this week after keeping a low profile for some time. “I am challenging him, without a doubt,” he asserted to this publication. He would not be drawn into further details citing party regulations. However this comes at a time when UDC leader Boko has previously said in 2019 if the UDC does not perform well at the elections he will resign, the sentiment which he has defaulted on for unclear reasons.
“But if he resigns, that’s fine. It means I will automatically become the President until next elective congress,” Dibeela told this publication last year in preparation for this year’s congress, adding that Boko said so many other things that did not come to pass and therefore he can never trust his word. The former Mmathethe/Molapowabojang BNF of UDC candidate highlighted then that if the BNF leader who also doubles as the UDC President doesn’t resign as promised “I will challenge him and I am sure other people will as well because he has done too much damage.”
The BNF Vice President hinted ahead of last year’s elections, some in the party members threatened to leave the party to form a new party proposed as Social Democratic Party but, “I told them that Boko is a temporary irritant. And so we are not going anywhere. The system will spit him out.” The reverend contended then that BNF could have split long time ago but he protected it because he understood that “even though he (Boko) is like this, he has a massive following especially among people on social media who don’t know what is happening on the ground.”
He added: “I saw a possible split in the BNF if we overthrow him even though so many people making the majority in the Central Committee have long wanted to pass a motion of no confidence on him.” “At that time we were 18 in the Central Committee and those who supported me were 12. And so we had clear majority at the time. So we could have easily won. So that is what we wanted to do but the timing was never right.”
Dibeela continued: “you remember that joke which was said to be the UDC congress held at Fairgrounds, that thing was a mess. They wanted to pass a vote of no confidence on him after that but it was clear his stooges were aware of that and ready to fight and so there was going to be a split, I said to them that I don’t want to be part of that.” The renowned politician-cum-pastor predicted last year that Boko will probably lose his Bonnington North constituency ‘as his character did not resonate well with the constituents and ordinary people.’
“He thinks because of his name as a brand (well established lawyer and Advocate) he will win. But he demeans people and cares less. He is pompous,” he said. In Dibeela’s lobby list, he is deputised by Dr. Patrick Molutsi. The proposed Chairperson is Kagiso Tshekega while Secretary General is Noah Salakae. Nelson Ramaotwana is tipped for the position of Deputy Secretary General; Treasurer is Olebeng Watshipi and Organising is Tona Mooketsi.
A surprising feature is Kago Mokotedi standing in for Publicity. Mokotedi has been a staunch Boko supporter and a member of “fear fokol” cabal who defended Boko through thick and thin and bet their lives with his name. It is unclear when Mokotedi and Boko broke ranks. For Political and Labour is Shawn Ntlhaile and Eitlhopha Mokeresete and Calmon Mogalakwe is running for the International Affairs portfolio of the BNF. For Economic Affairs, Tlamelo Shadikong will stand together with Happy Bashe for Health. The pastor’s lobby list is themed “team restoration; returning the BNF to its revolutionary culture.”
Meanwhile incumbent leader Boko has themed his lobby list “organisational stability and integrity towards 2024 elections.” In the lobby, Micus Chimbombi assists the incumbent; and Dr Molutsi appears as a campaigner for chairpersonship. For Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has thrown in his name in the ring while Kenneth Segokgo is contesting for the Treasure General of the party. Happy Bashe is contesting for Deputy Secretary General portfolio with Incumbent Publicity Secretary Justin Hunyepa trying to defend his position.
Andrew Motsamai is tipped to be Health Secretary and Victor Phologolo for Labour Secretary. For Organising Secretary and Economic Affairs the lobby will send Tabona Masole and Ontatlhile Selatlho. Motsumi Marobela is vying for Political Education.
There is uproar and confusion at Gaborone City Council (GCC) caused by the municipality’s decision to reject cheaper bids and instead award a contract of Asphalt overlay, resealing and road marking works of 10km in Gaborone to a more expensive contractor.
The tender was posted on December 8th last year with TRI VENTURES (PTY) LTD awarded the tender after being the best evaluated bidder. The company, to do the job, quoted P14 707 454.78 as the total bid price and P12 501 336.56 as the total contract price of the award.
The awarding of the job to this company has rubbed other bidders the wrong way and even suspecting the tender adjudicating body of having hidden interests. The arguments from the tenderpreneurs is that the common methodology for awarding the jobs is always hinged on the least expensive taking the job. This, they support further by saying the government has been decrying lack of funds but GCC continues to splash the funds without being logical and prudent.
From the tendering companies, a number of them were below TRI VENTURES’ quote. Trench Plant Hire quoted P12 million, with Costain Services praying for P13 million, Conconet PTY LTD asked for P12,9 million and Clanfield PTY LTD also quoted P12.9 million for the 10 km job in the capital city.
The latter, Clanfield PTY LTD which according to CIPA records is owned by Tlholego Ntebele, approached High Court this week Thursday seeking interdict which will pave way for the review of the tender. The company had initially filed an appeal and the Appeals Board dismissed it.
“In this regard you are hereby informed that, if you are aggrieved by the decision by the Appeals Board you may seek remedy from the high court in accordance with section 24(6) of the LAPAD act,” appeal dismissal letter read. The Appeals Board’s main contention was that the company quoted the money which is lower than the council minimum cut off point of P14 511 798 76.
In their heads of argument at the court, the company through their attorneys argued that by being inexpensive, it was enough to grant them the job. In fact they argued that the winning bid of TRI VENTURE owned by Lebogang Dikole reached the GCC budget ceiling and therefore Clanfield Pty Ltd were the best placed to be awarded.
The request for the interdict was nonetheless dismissed by Justice Radijeng but the company is still adamant that they will appeal. Delivering the speech on Legal year, Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane implored the courts to adjudicate on urgency basis matters of tenders as they stall progress on national developments.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which came into effect at the beginning of 2021 with a market of 1.2 billion and combined GDP of $3 trillion, could contribute $76 billion to the world economy, according to World Bank.
To harness this potential, African countries would have to address the infrastructural challenge — which means dishing out or augmenting existing infrastructure funding models in favour of new funding models. ACFTA — the biggest trade agreement since World Trade Organization — fundamentally seeks to scrap out tariffs in 90 percent of goods, subsequently improving trade by at least 15 percent by 2024.
However, trade between African countries will most likely to be hampered by lack of adequate infrastructure key in facilitating business. Africa, particularly the Sub-Saharan region has been grappling with the question of funding its infrastructure, and lags behind other regions in the world in meeting infrastructural needs.
As highlighted by African Development Bank in its 2018 economic outlook, one of the key factors retarding industrialization has been the insufficient stock of productive infrastructure in power, water, and transport services that would allow firms to thrive in industries with strong comparative advantages.
The continent’s infrastructure needs an amount of $130–170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range $68–$108 billion, according to African Development Bank. Africa’s infrastructure deficiency is well-documented, and has been subject of interrogation by development partners for decades.
The Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, produced by World Bank in 2010, collected comprehensive data on the infrastructure sectors in Africa—covering power, transport, irrigation, water and sanitation, and information and communication technology (ICT) as well as providing an integrated analysis of the challenges they face.
While the report noted that infrastructure has been responsible for more than half of Africa’s improving growth performance and has the potential to contribute even more in the future, it also discovered that Africa’s infrastructure networks increasingly lags behind those of other developing countries and are characterized by missing regional links and stagnant household access.
These deficiencies, cause African firms to suffer production costs, therefore making goods not only expensive but also lowering competition in the economy to the consumer’s disadvantage. African countries continues to fare badly in the annual Global Competitiveness Report — published by World Economic Forum — in the infrastructure pillar, with only South Africa being an exception in Sub-Saharan Africa, though still having power problems.
The infrastructure pillar looks at the quality and extension of transport infrastructure (road, rail, water and air) and utility infrastructure. This is so because better-connected geographic areas have generally been more prosperous and well-developed infrastructure lowers transportation and transaction costs, and facilitates the movement of goods and people and the transfer of information within a country and across borders.
It also ensures access to power and water—both necessary conditions for modern economic activity. Power is listed among Africa’s biggest infrastructure challenge, with 30 countries facing regular power shortages and many paying high premiums for emergency power, according to World Bank which indicated that to address Africa’s infrastructure needs it will cost around $93 billion a year, but African Development Bank puts the figure at $130–170 billion a year, after its recent study.
The infrastructure challenge cut across all countries, from fragile economies to resource-rich countries such as Botswana mainly because a large share of Africa’s infrastructure is domestically financed, with the central government budget being the main driver of infrastructure investment.
In 2017, Head of South African Development Community (SADC) Public Private Partnership (PPP) Network, Kogan Pillay warned that Africa will go into recession in the next 10 years if the continent does not adequately invest in its infrastructural needs.
Pillay, who has vast experience in the implementation of PPPs and has previously worked for the South African government, is of the view that Africa’s big investors will shun the continent because of lack of infrastructure necessary for doing business.
“World Bank has warned about this happening,” he said at a workshop organised by Ministry of Finance in Botswana. “Africa would not attract FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) because nobody would want to do business in a country which does not have infrastructure. It makes doing business difficult,” Pillay stated.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi could find himself ensnared in controversy, as contentious Russian billionaire, Rashid Sardarov this week emerged as the likely investor in the water desalination worth approximately P3 billion.
News of a possible water desalination project resurfaced after President Mokgweetsi Masisi made his second State visit to Namibian counterpart President Hage Geingob in a space of less than a month. President Masisi and his entourage travelled to Namibia to explore the possibility of collaborating on a water project, according to government officials.
Reports in Namibia indicate that talks are already underway with Geingob and an investor who is offering desalination water from the Atlantic Ocean. “Being a good neighbour and alive to Botswana’s water challenges, Geingob invited him to come and meet the investor to share thoughts on the project”, Masisi announced on his official social media pages.
“We are happy with the prospects because we need the water. However, our ministers and technocrats have to determine what is best for us bearing in mind our governance procedures,” Masisi wrote. Tautona Times, an Office of the President (OP) publication, reports that funds and other technical considerations permitting Botswana to partner with Namibia in a water desalination project which could address the current water shortages that the two countries are facing are being sourced.
Namibia has been working on a project to treat water from the Atlantic Ocean and use it for drinking purposes. Last Thursday, an investor willing to embark on the project made a presentation on the prospects of this mega project to the two Heads of State and their Ministers and officials in Windhoek. The project is expected to take five years to complete.
Botswana however is still part of Botswana- Lesotho water transfer project. The L-BWT scheme will supply water to Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa from the Makhaleng Dam – part of the Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme – through a 700 km water conveyance pipeline from Lesotho, through South Africa, to Botswana.
In August 2018, Botswana was tasked with an investment request of €3.42 million grant funding for outstanding feasibility studies related to the dam and conveyancing pipeline. “We are still part of the Lesotho- Botswana water transfer project where Botswana was tasked by the three countries to approach the African Development Bank to fund the feasibility study which they did and it’s been done. The technical team for the three countries even toured the pipeline site to determine what’s on the way which may require moving”, said impeccable sources.
After the trip, Tautona Times reported that an investor who was willing to embark on the project made a presentation on the prospects of this mega project to the two Presidents and their Ministers and officials in Windhoek. The project is expected to take five years to complete. The said investor is Rashid Sardarov, according to the Namibian press.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalist (ICIJ) Panama Papers have linked Russian billionaire and Namibian land baron, Rashid Sardarov, to a number of unscrupulous offshore companies. Sardarov, who is believed to be a person of interest between the two Heads of State, owns large tracts of land in Namibia, and is a long-term client of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers data leak, which was obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
ICIJ reports that absentee landlord Sardarov is a 60-year-old flamboyant Russian oligarch with an interest in energy businesses, property, aviation, hospitality and wildlife hunting. In 2013 he bought several farms in Namibia, measuring 28,000 hectares (the equivalent of about 34,000 football fields), through his Switzerland-based company, Comsar Properties SA. Sardarov also apparently intends to build a game ranch 70 km outside Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek.
One of the main purposes of creating an offshore company is to hide the names of the real owners. Even though creating these kind of companies is not illegal, the Panama Papers once again showed that some of these shell companies, masked in secrecy provide cover for dictators, politicians and tax evaders.
Rashid Sardarov is unapologetic about his riches, and was quoted by the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo as saying: “I’ve been a billionaire for years, and I’m not ashamed to say so”. He received Bosnian citizenship in 2011 because he was a major investor there.
In addition to his 2013 land purchases in Namibia, at the end of 2014, Sardarov wanted to buy an additional 18,000 hectares of land for expansion. It is not yet clear whether Sardarov acquired the extra land he wanted. But he is building a state-of-the-art game ranch, Marula Game Lodge, in the region.
Botswana and Namibia recently signed a Bi- National Commission and the two Heads of State emphasized the unique responsibility they have to their nations. They agreed to constantly engage each other in communication and other ventures that will yield benefits to the people of the two countries. President Masisi and Geingob acknowledged the common challenges that Botswana and Namibia have adding that the time for working in silos is over.