Homes and businesses are dark. Businesses have been paralyzed. There is no electricity. Taps have run dry. Not for a few hours, but for days. This is the life that Batswana are beginning to accept as normal. The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR), Kitso Mokaila says the situation will only improve in May 2016.
“By May next year, there will be three units running at the Morupule B Power Station,” Mokaila told Parliament on Friday.
He said the power situation, which has been tenuous since the end of July was due to the loss of one of the three units that have been operational at the power station. It was compounded by supply challenges from the region.
Mokaila’s promise was, however, crashed by some Members of Parliament (MPs), especially those from the opposition bench, who said the Minister took Batswana and the crisis for granted.
“How do we trust you? You have been very good with your storytelling and Batswana do not want stories, they want power and water, ” charged MP for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa. “Why is your government refusing for parliament to investigate for itself the current challenges that are bedeviling your ministry?” he asked, adding that the ministry had many challenges which it denied.
“I am not in denial of the problems we are faced with. I have been very transparent and said to Batswana that there is a problem. However, the problem cannot be solved overnight. The issue of infrastructure development takes time – construction of pipes takes time. I am no magician, it is not going to happen overnight. That is the harsh truth,” said Mokaila.
Meanwhile, MP for Mogoditshane, Sedirwa Kgoroba asked if proper procedures were followed in awarding the controversial Morupule B tender, and whether, for the sake of transparency, it was possible that the minutes of the procurement awarding process be made public. In his response, the minister said minutes related to the tendering process were not for public consumption to protect commercial and other interests of those participating in the process.
“Don’t you believe it is Batswana who need to be protected and that you be transparent to them as they are the ones now faced with a crisis? ” Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi chipped in.
“Batswana ought to be protected just like contractual agreements are to be,” reluctant to be drawn into the issue any further, Mmolotsi said during a side interview.
On the issue of water, Water Utilities Corporation recently issued a statement on the water supply challenges that the low supply is further affected by the constant power cuts.
Opposition MPs had at the beginning of the just ended parliament sitting tried in vain for an urgent motion on the power crisis, and for parliament to make an investigation but were outnumbered by ruling party MPs who voted against the investigation. The need for an urgent motion on the crisis also saw history made at parliament when MP for Gaborone Central, Dr Phenyo Butale was thrown out of parliament chambers for refusing to back down on the need for the urgent motion.