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Friday, 19 April 2024

Mzwinila pumps P4.5 billion into water projects

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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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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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