On Sunday 14 January 2007 The Sunday Standard Newspaper published two extremely misleading and offending stories that claimed to have emanated from Parliament under sensationalized headlines imputing corruption to Minister Tibone and impropriety in the tender process to raise the loan of approximately P272 million to partially finance the electrification of 100 villages in Botswana.
Although we would normally not comment on each and every newspaper article which appears, we strongly feel that The Sunday Standard articles in question have gone too far in abusing the rights and privileges of journalism under the guise of press freedom.
The true facts are as follows:
ÔÇó On 30 October 2006, the Government of Botswana and the Nordic Investment Bank signed a loan agreement in the sum of USD 44.5 million (approximately P272 million), to finance 50 percent of the cost of electrifying 100 villages over the remainder of NDP9;
ÔÇó The Rural Electrification Project is a BPC project under the auspices of our Ministry:
ÔÇó 238 villages have already been electrified with over 400 Villages still without electricity;
ÔÇó The procedure used (including raising the development finance from the Nordic Investment Bank) for the 100 villages is the same procedure that was used in the electrification of all the villages where funding from Nordic countries was used;
ÔÇó The transaction was handled through in an open and transparent manner, in this case, involving the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Attorney General’s Chambers, Botswana Power Corporation, the Swedish Embassy, Botswana Embassy in Sweden, the Nordea Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank and the contracting firm, ELTEL;
ÔÇó Everything was done above board and Minister Tibone was not personally involved in the handling of the transaction, within our Ministry, this was done primarily through BPC and the relevant officials at the Ministry;
ÔÇó The allegation that the appointment of the contracting firm ELTEL should have been done through the PPADB (and therefore it implies corruption), is false and without foundation, both as a matter of law and fact;
ÔÇó ELTEL was subjected to due diligence in Sweden before participation of the Nordic Banks;
ÔÇó In Botswana ÔÇô BPC projects are handed by PBC using their own internal tender and procurement procedures that fall outside the PPADB’s mandate. And indeed the PPADB has never been involved in any of the Rural Electrification Projects financed with funds from Nordic countries, and
ÔÇó ELETEL’s proposal was subjected to a thorough technical evaluation by Botswana Power Corporation and their pricing was found to be competitive.
We therefore confirm that all the allegations of corruption leveled against the Minister, (and indirectly the Ministry) are baseless, malicious and totally unsupported. The Ministry would, therefore, welcome any investigation into this matter, and as Minister Tibone’s promise in Parliament, we will open our books to anyone interested in establishing the truth.
In so doing, we hope that those responsible for making these misleading and unsubstantiated accusations of corruption will be held fully accountable for their actions.
A.R. Tombale (Dr.) Permanent Secretary