Botswana: Did Mzwinila Mislead President Masisi?

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Things are falling apart and the centre can no longer hold at the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLWS) and Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) and the finger point at the political head Kefentse Mzwinila.

On Tuesday Mzwinila addressed a press briefing regarding projects in his ministry, but the main focus was the water situation which is riddled in corruption thus delaying the implementation of NSC2.2.

He has been accused of misinforming the president regarding the water situation in Botswana and the projects undertaken. Mzwinila said the current supply to Gaborone is 80 mega liters per day while it needs 145 mega liters of water per day.

Information from the water engineers which was given to him to present to President Masisi is that the current supply to Gaborone is 90 mega litres per day. "NSC 2.2 will bring 110 mega litres per day not 64 mega litres as he stated during the press briefing," revealed the water engineer.

Mzwinila said that NSC 1 pump 80 mega litres of water per day but information seen by this publication indicate that NSC 1 with pump station 4.1 brings 103 mega litres of water per day. "The supply on completion of NSC2 will be 103 mega litres per day from NSC1 plus 110 mega litres per day from NSC2 giving 213 mega litres per day," it reads.

Mzwinila on the other hand said that the combined volume of the two will be 144 mega liters. Put to the source that maybe the minister was also misled by the officers at the ministry, he answered in negative. "In all our meetings we correct the misinformation but they insist on peddling the wrong information. Even Carter Morupisi or Elias Magosi will tell you that we corrected the numbers before they were presented to cabinet," revealed senior official at MLWS.

Chairman of the Finance and Estimates Committee Ignatius Moswaane also corroborated the suspicion of a deliberate camapign to mislee the president led by the minister for some undisclosed reasons. "Even during examination by our committee we realized that a lot of critical information was hidden from us only for it to be leaked to us," he said.

Moswaane said that the reason Mmetla Masire was fired as CEO and Thatayaone Dedede demoted from being Permanent Secretary at MLWS to Botswana Public Service College was because they were against corruption perpetuated by the minister.

Regarding his involvement in the awarding of tenders, Mzwinila categorically stated that he is not involved in the procurement process at both the ministry and WUC.

"I am not involvement in the awarding of tenders and have not received bribes from anyone," said the soft spoken Mzwinila.

Technical reports altered

Highly placed sources have revealed that Mzwinila has instructed the Project Management Officers that they have to pass the technical report on any tender to his officer before being taken to Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB). "The reason they want to see the technical report before it goes to PPADB is that they know that once it is at financial stage there is nothing they can do since they don't have jurisdiction at PPADB," revealed the source.

Early this year, PMO were summoned to his office regarding a technical evaluation undertaken by the consultant Bergstan Consulting Engineers for the P1.3 billion Masama/Mmamashia pipeline. They were instructed to re-evaluate the technical report which has listed BHO, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and China Jiangsu/ Unik Joint Venture as the top three best companies for the project. The tender has since been suspended. "The use of external consulting engineers is an international best practice and now using the in house engineers is just too much and won't do their work properly," revealed a source at WUC.

WUC high capital projects

Recently assistant minister at MLWS Itumeleng Moipisi was at pains explaining why they have taken decision to move high capital project from Project Management Office to WUC. He said the decision was to reduce burden on their engineers at PMO as one engineer is managing about five projects while at WUC engineer manages two projects.

Member of Parliament for Molepolole South Dr Tlamelo Mmatli questioned the effectiveness of WUC in executing mega projects compared to PMO whom he said are doing exceptional work. "Water Utilities is very experienced, look at the projects that they are managing which are funded by World Bank, we have experienced engineers there," answered Moipisi.

Moipisi failed to explain why they moving water resources development to WUC though is not their mandate. WUC in the 2016/2017 financial year were given the Moshupa, Kanye and Thamaga Network Rehabilitations and they are yet to start them. The other one is the Kasane Network rehabilitation which is currently at a tendering stage.

In 2016 they were also given the Moshupa sanitation project which will cost P80 million and is also yet to be executed. The project was given to WUC two years ago. Some of the moved projects include the Gamononyane-Molepolole NSC Connection project, Maun and Gumare water reticulation projects.

"This is going to create a lot of problems because the projects are already at evaluation stage while the other one (Maun reticulation) is before the courts of law. Now it means they have to cancel them because PPADB won't want to be cited on litigations should one company seek legal recourse," he explained.

WUC has their own procurement process which is different from PPADB and the projects have already gone through PPADB which is a different entity.

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