April 11 2010: Morupule B power project, which will be partly financed by the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) to the tune of P931 million and P1.45 billion respectively, was this week supported by legislators, although MPs were concerned by some unscrupulous contractors.
Debating the World Bank Authorisation and African Development Bank Bill presented by the finance minister Kenneth Matambo, MPs lamented lack of check and balances by government.
Kgatleng West MP Gilbert Mangole said as public representatives, they should be suspicious of some of the swindlers in the industry.
“Like my colleagues have alluded to, the cost of ministerial houses currently under construction are suspicious and so lends credence to suspect the hefty loans we are supposed to endorse,” argued Mangole.
Former employee of local government, Mangole had the opportunity to witness this shoddy deal this time around connived by the locals and in concert with foreign companies who inflated tender prices but would, in swift weirdness of the management, be arrested red handed.
“These operations do exist and it is against this backdrop that we call for minister to take heed of our suspicious. After all this is our money, the public coffers we should keep guard,” he added.
While he appreciates government noble efforts to illuminate the ‘dark’ Botswana through the expansion of Morupule B power station, Mogoditshane MP Patrick Masimolole for his part also decried over the exorbitant prices which come with the massive projects.
“We (government) seem to be in discord with the issue of citizen empowerment we often sing in this august house. We obtain massive sums of money from these loans only for the donors to reap the dividends while our people become spectators as money is imported abroad. These are daunting tasks the minister should addressed failure of which we will be a disappointing lot,” Masimolole charged.
Non of Matambo’s interventions that the loans were negotiated through international competitive bidding where the donor country dictates the conditions, would budge the legislators with Francistown south MP Wynter Mmolotsi insisting “Botswana as a credible creditor with array sound credentials by now should be permitted to provide its priority conditions top amongst them a condition involving citizen economic empowerment.”
Although acknowledging the groans suggested by MP’s, finance minister in his response was adamant his juniors assigned to carry the project would not dare swindle the government.
“As much as you love your country the honourable MP’s should know the assessors of this project they too love Botswana,” Matambo argued.
He promised the MP’s to do every possible to empower Batswana in the project, arguing however Botswana does not have much powers to dictate terms, reiterating the international competitive bidding.
Estimated to cost P11.6 billion, Morupule B power station project would augment the incapacitated the existing power station, producing energy from coal via modern technological means.
Part of the loans is envisaged to erect a new power station, distribution lines, substations and water pipeline.
Blamed for sitting on abundant coals whilst heavily depending on South Africa for energy needs since independence, the Morupule B power station is expected to ease persistent outages when its final completion ends 2014.