Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has thrown out of the window the piercing demands submitted by Dikgosi from the last Bogosi Pitso. Government says the demands by the traditional leaders cannot be entertained as they require a lot of resources.
The requests by Dikgosi were led by Chairman of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD) Kgosi Puso Gaborone, who bluntly told the then Assistant Minister Kgotla Autlwetse that they want a ministry that would specifically address issues of Bogosi and culture. The request was following a trail of others the traditional leaders asked for especially with respect to their powers. “Merero (consultations) should be under one roof; culture should be taken to where Bogosi is. I am advocating for one thing; Ministry of Bogosi and Traditional Affairs,” Kgosi Gaborone said at the Pitso.
Following that meeting, in which the government officials including Ministers gave Dikgosi confidence that their demands will be implemented, it is now appearing to be a far-fetched dream. “The establishment of the Ministry requires resources both manpower and budget,” Ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PS) Boipolelo Khumomatlhare said. He continued; “The prerogative for creation and abolition of offices, inclusive of ministries, rests solely on the President as per the constitution,” he said when asked about the implementation of the demands.
While Dikgosi are now left in limbo and chances of their demands being put in place slowly evaporating, the Ministry through the Department of Tribal Administration will carry out an assessment of tribal administration. This will be aimed at determining whether the department is feasible as it is or it will need to be upgraded to a Directorate position or to be a stand-alone ministry considering its magnitude.
“The study recommendations will assist on the way forward on the proposed matter. DPSM on the other hand is also looking into different mandates of Ministries with a view of rationalizing. The two exercises need to be completed before submissions can be made on the establishment of a Ministry,” Khumomatlhare responded to WeekendPost enquiry.
Late last year there was to be another Pitso in Francistown, which was cancelled last minute. It was at that meeting where the new Minister, Eric Molale was expected to share with Dikgosi how far the government is regarding their requests. The meeting is still in the pipeline and it is anticipated before April this year.
Chairman Kgosi Gaborone was not available to comment on these matters this week as his phone rang unanswered. However, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele had this to say; “We submitted our demands to the government and we expected to meet Minister Molale about them late last year but we could not as the meeting was postponed. So we are waiting to meet him so that he can give answers as to whether our requests will see the light of the day or what. We will take it from there.”
Another Dikgosi plea to the government was to scrap off some sections of Bogosi act. Among those is section 15, which is focused on withdrawal of recognition of Kgosi by a Minister. It reads in part: ‘the Minister may caution or reprimand the Kgosi; order the stoppage of increment of the salary of the Kgosi; suspend the Kgosi; if he or she considers it to be expedient and in the interest of peace, good order and good governance, depose such Kgosi or extend the suspension for a period not exceeding two years.’
Government on the other hand is diverging with Dikgosi on this one. “Whereas these sentiments have been expressed by Dikgosi in the present scheme of things, the sections are likely to be retained as they are there as a regulatory mechanism to ensure ethical conduct on the part of Dikgosi,” said the PS. It is however noted that Bogosi Act of 2008 is currently under review and consultations on the issues raised will be done with relevant stakeholders.
The last Kgosi to be de-recognized was Kgosi Kgafela of Bakgatla in 2011. Kgosi Seepapitso IV in 1994 was once suspended and government withheld fifty percent of his salary as a Chief, these Dikgosi do not want to see this happen again hence vehement advocacy to scrap the sections calling for de-recognition. Dikgosi have also spoken in one voice that they need security equivalent to those given to judges as they do the same toil of solving disputes.
Private and personal secretaries must also be availed to the leaders to do their job diligently, they concurred. The government has also thrown these demands into the dustbin, as it is not sustainable. “The total number of Dikgosi in the country is 670 excluding Headman of Arbitration (Bo-Ralekgotla). The provision of security for Dikgosi may not be sustainable. It should also be noted that the current terms and conditions of Dikgosi employment has no provision for security. In case that Dikgosi might be in danger when presiding over cases, Botswana Police Service are present to render security,” Permanent Secretary Khumomatlhare explicitly said.
The government has also maintained that the terms and conditions of employment have no provision for personal secretaries. However, it is said there are Court Clerks in customary courts who provide secretarial service to Dikgosi. Dikgosi are also speaking in one voice to have state of the art Kgotla Offices and are also demanding same automobiles like the ones used by Ministers. The 2018 Pitso was aimed at drafting the five year strategy for Dikgosi, before then the last meeting was in 2015.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.