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Mzwinila pumps P4.5 billion into water projects

Mzwinila

For the financial year 2022/23, the Ministry of Land Management, Water & Sanitation Services has set aside over P4.5 billion for water projects. This was revealed in Parliament this week when Minister Kefentse Mzwinila presented the Committee of Supply statement for his Ministry.

The proposed development budget for the Ministry is Five Billion, and Sixty – Four Million, Seven Hundred and Ninety – Eight Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty -Eight Pula (P5,064,798,358), which is P197,068,149 or 4% less than the revised 2021/2022 Development Budget of P5,261,866,507.

The largest share of the Development Budget is allocated to Water Supply Pipelines, at P2, 332,287,108 or 46.0%. Projects to be financed from this allocation include the completion of ongoing components of the North-South Carrier 2.2 being Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant and Tswapong South; NSC 2.3 Mmamashia – Gaborone Portable Water Scheme; Molepolole (Gamononyane) – NSC Connection.

Other projects include the BEWSE projects (Sowa and Selebi Phikwe Water projects); and commencement of new projects such as Kanye Network Rehabilitation; Kgalagadi North Boreholes as well as the earlier mentioned North-South Carrier 2.2 – Contracts 1 to 3 that are currently at tendering stage.

The second-largest share is allocated to Water Supply and Sanitation Networks at P2,192,500,000 (43.3%) of the Development Budget, bringing the total funds allocated to water projects to P4.5 billion. The Water supply and sanitation networks budget will be used largely for the completion of the ongoing projects being Lobatse Water Master Plan, Moshupa Sanitation, Kasane/Kazungula Water Networks, Seronga – Gudigwa Village Water Supply, Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation, and Maun Water and Sanitation.

Funds have also been allocated for the commencement of new contracts being Maun Waste Water Treatment Plants; Maun Satellite Villages Connections Including Treatment Plant at Sexaxa and Molepolole Water and Sanitation. Throughout the NDP 11 period, over 80% of the Ministry’s Development Budget has been allocated for Water and Sanitation Infrastructure projects, mainly for the development of water transmission and distribution schemes.

RECENTLY COMPLETED PROJECTS

During the Financial Year 2021/2022 the Ministry completed the construction of Masama – Mmamashia 100km Water Pipeline benefiting Greater Gaborone area including Kanye, Ramotswa cluster, Lobatse cluster, and Goodhope Sub District. The Ministry also completed the construction of Shakawe and Gumare Water Treatment Plants, benefiting Shakawe and Gumare catchment areas; and pipeline connection of Mokgacha Village from the Seronga – Gudigwa Potable Water Scheme. The expansion of Water Treatment Plants for Mahalapye and Palapye was commissioned and handed over in February 2022 and communities are now benefiting from these projects.

Minister Mzwinila told parliament that the construction of the Lobatse bottleneck and Mogojogojo Pipelines are also substantially complete, adding that commissioning and handing over for these projects is ongoing and “the communities are already benefiting from the projects”. Construction of the North East/Tutume Sub District Water Transfer Scheme under the Botswana Emergency Water Supply and Efficiency supported by the World Bank has been completed. The scheme was put to beneficial use for residents of North East District and Tutume Sub District from November 2021.

ONGOING PROJECTS

In terms of ongoing major projects, Maun Water and Sanitation Phase 2 – Contract 1 (extension and upgrading of water distribution network and sanitation reticulation) commenced in October 2019 and is scheduled to be completed in thirty-six (36) months. The water reticulation component of the project is substantially done, while the sewerage component of the project is trailing behind schedule. Contract 2,  being equipment of boreholes at Kunyere, Shashe, and Tsutsubega wellfields, construction of a water treatment plant, and additional storages commenced in February 2021 and it is planned to be completed in twenty-four (24) months.

The Design and Building of Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant commenced in November 2020 with the design phase. The project commenced in March 2021 and it is scheduled to be completed by October 2023. The project construction phase is now 21% against the planned 22% completion.

The other major ongoing project is the North-South Carrier (NSC) 2.3, a potable water scheme intended to further distribute water from Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant to Gaborone. The project commenced in November 2020. Progress for the three components of the project as at end of February 2022 was at 64%, 65%, and 70% completion for Contract 1, Contract 2 and Contract 3 respectively. The completion date for the project is May 2022.

Lobatse Water Supply Master Plan also commenced in November 2020. The project involves the construction of a water transfer scheme that conveys potable water from Gaborone to villages in the five constituencies of Lobatse, Moshupa – Manyana, Goodhope – Mabule, Ramotswa, and Mmathethe – Molapowabowang. The project progress as at end of February 2022 was 73% and 52% for Package 1 and Package 2 respectively. The completion date for the project is May 2022.

Molepolole (Gamononyane) – NSC Connection, commenced in October 2021 and is planned to be completed in April 2023. The project is running on schedule. Goodhope Water Supply – Phase 2.2 (connecting 32 villages in the Goodhope Sub District) was awarded in February 2022 and it is expected to commence in March 2022.Selebi Phikwe – Serule Water Transfer Scheme is progressing well, as at end of February 2022 progress was 21% against plan of 25%.

PROJECTS AT PROCUREMENT STAGE

Minister Mzwinila told lawmakers that a  number of other major water projects are currently at various stages of procurement in preparation for contracting awarding in 2022/2023: The three contracts under the North-South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 being: Contract 1 – Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline; Contract 2 – Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline; and Contract 3 – Palapye to Mahalapye Pipeline are at tendering stage.

The other projects that are earmarked for commencement in 2022/2023 are; Thune Dam Contracts, Kanye Network Rehabilitation, Maun Waste Water Treatment Plants, Maun Satellite Villages Connections, and Molepolole Water and Sanitation. Pre-qualification of the bidders for the proposed Glen Valley Wastewater Reclamation Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project was completed in June 2021. The shortlisted bidders have been issued with Request for Proposals so that they can submit technical and financial proposals for implementing the Project. The tender is currently running and will be closing by end of March 2022.

Tender for Transaction Advisor for Chobe Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme (Pandamatenga to Gaborone) which will be implemented on PPP basis closed in November 2021. Evaluation of the submitted tenders has been completed and the appointment of the Transaction Advisor for the Project is expected to be done by end of March 2022.

Boteti Southern and Central Cluster of villages Water Supply Scheme is at tender evaluation stage and expected to be awarded by June 2022. The project is meant to improve water supply and quality for the villages of Mokoboxane, Kedia, Rakops, Mopipi, Xhumo, Toromoja, Mmadikola and Xere. Sowa Water Supply Scheme is at the initial stages of procurement and it is expected to be awarded by September 2022.

Under the World Bank-supported Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency programme, is also the Letlhakane and Mambo wastewater and sludge management projects.A feasibility study has been completed for Mambo Wastewater Treatment Plant and the process to procure a design and build contract for refurbishment and upgrading of the treatment plant has commenced while expansion of Letlhakane Wastewater Treatment Ponds is at tendering stage.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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