Friday, March 31, 2023

BPC ignored DIS advice on P11 billion Morupule B project

The Botswana Power Corporation ignored advice from the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) on the controversial Morupule B project tender which was awarded to China National Electric Equipment Corporation ÔÇô it emerged this week.

DIS Director, Isaac Kgosi, briefed the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) on a trend in the country where decision makers ignore DIS advice. You can brief them on an issue, but you cannot force them. Like they say you can take a horse to a river but you cannot force it to drink.”

He said after the establishment of DIS and at the time when the project was commissioned, their advice was sought. According to Kgosi, DIS is unable to force organisations to take their advice because decisions on the awarding of tenders are done by tender committees. He said when their advice is ignored there was nothing they could do.

“We were asked to give advice on this project. We did look at it, we did advice and at the end of the day we don’t take decisions as to who should do the project, which is done by the tender committee. If they did not take our advice, then that is unfortunate. We cannot force them to do so,” said Kgosi.

He revealed that they usually conduct security checks on companies that are awarded Mega projects, among them the Morupule B Power project, adding that a similar advice was also given to a project in Selibe Phikwe as well as the defunct Hyundai project.

Kgosi was responding to concerns raised by PAC member and MP for Tati East, Samson Guma Moyo, that DIS could be neglecting some of its roles as provided for in its mandate which entails, among others, assisting government agencies to collect information on major projects such as Morupule B power project.

Guma wondered if the relevant procedure was followed, adding that “did we evaluate everybody.”
“This is the biggest project in the country, worth P11 billion. My biggest issue is the performance of Morupule B. I will be fooling myself not to think that they have done due diligence. We may not have the technical knowhow in certain areas. It is not about expenditure and execution, it is about the impact of that project on the economy; it has to be monitored from point A to point B,” said Moyo.

Moyo added that; “being what we are in Africa, we should have known and not taken chances. If I do not rule out that one, I’m fooling myself; did we do proper procedure and evaluate everyone from a security point of view.”

Moyo repeatedly sought to know how DIS was assisting government agencies in terms of the mandate “we have given you,” before they engage contractors.

“We now have challenges of water and electricity. It is not that we do not have water. The problem is project implementation. There will be increases of tariffs and inflation will go up. We end up not having money and the economy will go down,” he warned.

The economy, Moyo further warned, has to be secured.

“If you get to a point where there is a continuous black out, this will impact on the economy. As far as your mandate is concerned, are you assisting these agencies,” he asked.

On reports that the intelligence agency intends to assassinate self exiled Bakgatla leader Kgafela II, Kgosi confirmed that he communicates with Kgafela, but denied that they intend to kill him.
“I have Kgafela’s number; we at times communicate and issues of his assassination have not cropped up during our conversation,” he said.

Touching on a security vetting Kgosi said this was a process that takes time. “But what I can say is that we are doing our level best. The maximum time it takes to vet a person staying in Botswana is four days. Citizenship at times takes longer because they have to liaise with applicant’s country of origin.”

He said DIS would not allow a situation whereby Botswana is used as a conduit for people who have committed crimes in their countries of origin.

“Some prominent business people who claim that they contribute immensely towards the economy of Botswana are the worst. If only I were allowed to mention names. If we are not careful they will bring down our economy,” said Kgosi.


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