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The Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public has labeled state run Botswana Power Corporation procurement committee as the most corrupt department in Botswana.
The revelations surfaced when senior management of BPC appeared before the Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprise where BPC was accused of being a cesspool of corruption. The entity had allegedly awarded tenders worth more than P2,4 billion in the North West Transmission Grid (NWTG) to Asian companies.
BPC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stefan Scwarzfischer admitted that BPC procurement team was the most corrupt department at the power utility.
Scwarzfischer was responding to the Committee Chairman, Guma Moyo who had asked whether he was aware that BPC procurement was one of the most corrupt wings among Parastatals in Botswana.
“I agree with your statement. I have been there seen it and I am the one who is fighting tooth and nail to root out rampant corruption at the power utility,” he said. Scwarzfischer also indicated that they are redrafting tender regulations in order to close gaps that exist which allowed rampant corruption.
Scwarzfischer also made the confession after he was questioned on why indigenous Batswana companies were not part of the companies that were awarded part of the P2,4 billion North West Transmission Grid. The committee was convinced that Scwarzfischer’s explanation to the effect that Batswana companies failed to meet the tender requirements was not enough to deny Batswana a share on P2, 4 billion projects.
Scwarzfischer explained that the materials used and the expertise needed qualified the companies that won the tenders worth P2,4 billion to undertake such task.
The committee Chairperson Samson Moyo Guma, however, argued that since some Batswana had formed consortium with other international companies it was BPC’s responsibility to empower indigenous Batswana. Moyo Guma was of the view that Batswana companies can also hire experts if there is a need.
According to Moyo Guma, the power utility boss had no intentions to empower Batswana as evidenced by the fact that the companies that were awarded BPC tenders belong to Asian nationals. Another member, Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile also argued that there is enough evidence showing that indeed the companies were unscrupulously awarded the tenders.
“We know people who were celebrating even before the tenders were adjudicated. They were celebrating because they had already won the tender,” argued Reatile.
Reatile indicated that Batswana have worked hard for money and it was time for them to benefit from such big projects without being hired as ‘messengers.’
Moyo Guma reiterated that Scwarzfischer’s procurement division in his organisation is by far the most corrupt in the country. He said should parliament step in, all hell will break loose.
"This I am speaking with conviction because we have done thorough investigations. It is something that you need to work on very quickly and clean up. If it should ever come to that we must clean your mess for you, know that you will have no jobs," lamented Guma.
Scwarzfischer acknowledged that indeed his organization’s procurement department is in disarray and that he has already engaged the DCEC to intervene.
Moyo Guma told Scwarzfischer that their spending habits are also a cause for concern.
"You are already able to produce 800 mega watts of electricity which is more than enough for the nation's consumption, why do you have to add an extra 100. You already have a surplus," Moyo Guma said.
In response Scwarzfischer said that BPC feels it is necessary to run more than one power plant at a time to be on the safe side. However Moyo Guma still insisted that the economy will be dented by the hundreds of millions that have to be spent towards what he described as unnecessary surplus power generation.
Moyo Guma added that he could not understand why it is so urgent to have many power plants.
A concerned Reatile said Batswana owned companies hardly ever have a stake in the billion Pula worth tenders that BPC awards.
“We are told that they are incapacitated to deliver but as an organisation you are doing nothing to ensure that in the long run Batswana do benefit. You do not even have policies that guide your tendering processes towards empowering local companies.”