President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila, were embroiled in the politics of controversy-dogged 100km Masama-Mmamashia water pipeline and boardroom brawls of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), The Business Weekly & Review has established.
This publication is informed that as a result of the boardroom wars that ensued at WUC, a certain Thapelo Moemedi Leinaeng was ultimately retrenched in what is alleged to be an unfair and involuntary manner that occurred on April 29, 2019 through WUC’s so-called 2016-2020 Itemogo Restructuring Project.
The Business Weekly & Review understands that at the heart of Leinaeng’s forced removal from WUC was “disapproval” of his office’s proposed MLWS PMO/WUC TSD NDP10 and NDP11 Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Project Delivery Integration/Re-Prioritisation/Optimisation through development of a functional MLWS/WUC Integrated Enterprise Programme Management Office (IEPMO) which the WUC Board endorsed but the former WUC CEO Mmetla Masire and the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services(MLWS) executives disapproved of.
According to information reaching this publication, the IEPMO – which sparked disputes at WUC – was the birth and conceptualisation of the Masama 100km connection. It is understood that by the year 2017, WUC’s former CEO and some officials at MLWS aligned to oppose the Masama 100km connection pipeline, thereby making the then Technical Services Director Leinaeng a target for removal from WUC’s higher echelons. “In 2017, there was a group of officials who decided to oppose the proposal of the Masama 100km pipeline and they subverted and developed their mission to make sure the 100km proposal is quashed,” a source said.
It is understood that subsequent to that, attempts by the opponents of the project to also rescind the TSD position ensued. It is said this was in 2017 when attempts to make the TSD position redundant were made buy the then Minister, Prince Maele, reinstated the department and also authorised progression of procurement of Masama 100km pipeline connection.
As the story unfolded, and so did the politics. President Masisi assumed office in April of 2018 and appointed Mzwinila to lead the lands and water ministry. But another attempt to block the project emerged at this point. It is alleged that this time funds were not availed to the TSD for implementation of the project.
The Business Weekly & Review can reveal that Leinaeng was removed from WUC as its TSD through Itemogo Restructuring in 2019. Sources say his involuntary removal came at the instance of former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi, who reportedly gave the former WUC CEO and the WUC Board explicit instructions that from a meeting held on 14 February 2019, the TSD had to be out in two months.
Sources have it that what appeared to be the source of conflict was the proposed P760 million Masama 100km project which was to be delivered in eight to 12 months versus the Project Management Office’s (PMO) P8 billion NSC2.2 to be delivered in 42 months.
As a result of the brawl at WUC, during the 2019 elections, there was no water in the North in what sources call a political ploy to deliberately block the Masama 100km project. “There was P4 billion in excess in the NSC2.2 budget which the TSD had identified through a Value Engineering/Re-prioritization/Optimisation exercise that we undertook,” says an informed source.
Masisi/OP notified of TSD removal
Escalating to the highest office in the land, the Office of the President (OP), it is reported that on the 1st May 2019, President Masisi was made aware of the dismissal of the WUC TSD and sought to establish facts behind the issue. However, reached for comment this week, this is what Press Secretary to the President Batlhalefi Leagajang said: “The President does not get involved in HR issues in the parastatals. This appears to be a matter between an employee and an employer and the President does not get involved in such issues.”
The President’s spin doctor added that this being a case where the affected person alleges unfair dismissal, “the matter may end up in court so we would not want the President to be embroiled in such matters”.
According to those in the know, a week after the dismissed former WUC employee met President Masisi, Minister Mzwinila set a meeting together with the ministry’s then recently appointed Permanent Secretary (PS), Bonolo Khumotaka. The Business Weekly & Review understands that it was at this meeting where the minister mulled reinstatement of Leinaeng as WUC’s Technical Services Director. Sources say the plan was to have Leinaeng acting as WUC CEO as the former CEO Mmetla Masire’s contract was coming to an end (in June 2019). However, all that never materialised.
Contacted for comment, Minister Mzwinila referred this publication’s enquiry to the ministry’s public relations office and Water Utilities Corporation. Said Mzwinila: “Please direct to Public Relations, Ministry Headquarters for (a) written response also direct to CEO Water Utilities Corporation for a written answer.”
For its part, WUC would not be drawn on the matter. A terse response from the Director – Strategy and Corporate Affairs, Peter Sedingwe, said: “The Corporation acknowledges receipt of your inquiry regarding one of its employees. Our policy is that the Corporation does not discuss matters concerning current or former employees with third parties.”
Subsequent to failed reinstatement attempts, The Business Weekly & Review has established that on 29 May 2019, the head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS), Brigadier Peter Magosi, offered Leinaeng a job in the post of DISS Director Projects.
However, according to reliable information, things went from bad to worse at DISS for Leinaneng who has since been interdicted and is allegedly victimised whenever he raises the issue of his reinstatement.
Masisi commissions Masama project
Meanwhile, the President recently commissioned the 100km Pipeline Masama-Mmamashia water project which is designed to supply Gaborone and Greater Gaborone with water. Inspite of controversies that have courted the project from the onset, the President has expressed optimism that it will curb water shortages in the country.
“The 100km Masama-Mmamashia pipeline project was prioritised under the emergency projects following water shortages in Greater Gaborone,” he said when commissioning the project. “As you may be aware, the water shortage extended to the constituencies of Mochudi East, Mochudi West, Tlokweng, Moshupa-Manyana, Thamaga Kumakwane, Ramotswa, Lobatse, Kanye, Mmathethe-Molapowabojang, Goodhope-Mabule, Mogoditshane-Mmopane as well as Lentsweletau-Mmopane.”
“These areas have experienced a daily deficit of 49 million litres of water resulting in water restrictions and water rationing. Additionally, the water challenges experienced by the Gaborone Dam as well as Molatedi Dam in the Republic of South Africa compounded the shortage, motivating the need to deliver this project expeditiously.”