Audit unearthed “shortfalls” in ESP projects – Mthimkhulu

  • 5914 were awarded out of planned 7520
  • Only 3879 projects were completed by programme’s end


The once publicised Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) had failed to reach the initial target of completed projects when the programme period elapsed in 2019.

Responding to a question in Parliament on Tuesday, the Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Meshack Mthimkhulu, stated that there were some major achievements under the programme but an audit had discovered it was surrounded by “a lot of shortfalls”.

Among the shortfalls was inadequate monitoring of projects by implementing ministries and departments, underperformance of contractors and consultants and lack of project-readiness by implementing ministries while some projects were abandoned.

Mthimkhulu said although the government’s initial plan was to award 7520 projects under the programme period, when the project ended in 2019 only 5914 were awarded. Out of the awarded projects, only 3879 were successfully completed.

Moreover, when the programme came to an end in March 2019, a total of 2035 projects were at various stages and still ongoing while 1611 have not yet started.

Minister Mthimkhulu said the audit showed that there was relative underperformance under the government’s objective of Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).

Exorbitant pricing
“On average, the monthly procurement report showed that the ministries and departments used only 4 percent of the reserved budget,” he said. “However, this was attributed to a number of factors, among others, the slow implementation of the initiative by procuring entities to procure from local manufactures, exorbitant pricing and poor quality.”

Despite these challenges that were discovered by the audit, Mthimkhulu said there were some major achievements. These included decongesting of A1 Road by constructing Gaborone-Boatle, Dibete-Machaneng and Serule-Mabeleapodi roads.

In addition, backlog of infrastructure in secondary schools, eletrictification of 34 villages and expansion of electricity in 60 villages were completed. “These major projects stimulated village economies and jobs were created during the projects,” said Mthimkhulu.
“The targeted jobs for infrastructure projects were 38 000 and at the end of the programme 28 662 people have been engaged under various ESP projects across the country with 99.3 percent employed being Batswana.”

Meanwhile, a former high-ranking official who served under both Masisi and Khama’s administrations believes that the programme was discontinued for political reasons. “Such programmes are used for political mileage,” said the former official. “The ESP programme is synonymous with Khama and was also constituency targeted. Khama wanted the ESP to be remembered as part of his legacy.”

The retired civil servant noted that the discontinuing the ESP programme could mean termination of some of the projects’ benefits such as jobs and delays in development projects in some parts of the country.

*Additional reporting by LETLHOGILE MPUANG