Contractors last week accused Francistown City Council leadership of failing to combat corruption especially in the awarding tenders . The contractors were responding to an Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) meeting brief held by Francistown Mayoress Sylvia Muzila and the City Clerk, Lebuile Israel. The contractors were skeptical over the ESP programme benefiting them due to the rampant corruption at the city council.
The objective of the meeting was to update the contractors on the implementation of the ESP projects in Francistown. The ESP programme was started by government last year in an endeavor to create jobs and energize the economy. The government has budgeted P3.6 billion for the programme and it is expected to run for three years.
“The ESP programme is noble, but the only problem that dampens our hopes is the fact that there is rampant corruption in the awarding of tenders at Francistown City Council. Sometimes it just baffles me on how tenders are awarded in the City Council,” said one of the contractors Cornelius Budani.
He emphasized that the programme will only benefit a selected few mainly due to corruption at the city council.
Another contractor, Robert Maposa, shared the same sentiments. He said that corruption at the city council has reached alarming levels and added that it is high time that the city leadership acted to contain it.
He also bemoaned failure by the city council to monitor its projects which often result in corruption.
“As we are speaking right now, there is a contractor who was awarded a tender by the city council to pave some parts of the city and he is doing a shoddy job. I do not believe there has been monitoring of the project and this is very sad. The city council is losing millions of Pula due to corruption.
He also expressed concern over failure by government to decentralize services from Gaborone. He added that such a challenge negatively impacts on local contractors to effectively undertake government projects.
Initially, the City Clerk had urged contractors to adhere to all the required procedures when expressing their interest for tenders to benefit from the ESP. He said most of the local contractors fail to get tenders because they do not comply with the tender requirements when they apply for tenders.
“Most of the times local contractors do not get tenders mainly due to the issue of compliance and failing to meet conditions,” he said.
Israel had also expressed concern over corruption activities that involve both the contractors and some employees at the city council staff. He said it is very important for the contractors to report corruption to the city council and the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) if they encounter such.
Another contractor, Thabo Tapologo said that there is obviously going to be a lot of corruption in the ESP programme as government more so that government declared last year that public servants should also be allowed to run businesses.
“There is obviously going to be conflict of interest more so that public servants have been allowed to run companies even when they still hold office,” he said.
Responding to the concerns, the City Clerk Israel acknowledged that there was corruption, but urged the contractors to work closely with the city council to uproot it. He however urged the contractors to utilize ESP to their benefit
“The way ESP programme is structured is that contractors will only be allowed to express interests for not more than two tenders and those who are given tenders will not be allowed to undertake multiple tenders but only one tender. I also have to admit that corruption does exist and it involves both the city council and the contractors. We need to combine efforts to combat it,” he said.