The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the country’s 12th general election with a resounding margin. The party has ruled the country since its independence in 1966. The win gives President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi a five year term to implement the BDP’s manifesto which promises among other things, growing the economy to create jobs, and effect a constitutional review.
The BDP won 38 seats out of a possible 57 seats, giving it 66.66% of the vote. The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Advocate Duma Boko, only managed to garner 15 seats, while the former president Dr Ian Khama-backed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by Biggie Butale gained 3 seats, and Ndaba Gaolathe’s Alliance of Progressives (AP) won one seat. In 2014 the BDP won 37 seats and the popular vote stood at about 47%, it has certainly gone up this year.
The BDP white washed the opposition in southern constituencies which include all the five in Gaborone, two Mochudi constituencies, Ramotswa, Tlokweng, two Kanye constituencies, Mogoditshane, two Molepolole constituencies, Goodhope-Mabule, Mathethe-Molapowabojang, Lobatse, Gabane-Mankgodi, Moshupa-Manyana, Lentsweletau-Mmopane, Jwaneng-Mabutsane and Thamaga. The BDP dominance also stretched to the Western part of the country where it won both Kgalagadi constituencies, as well as Takatokwane and Letlhakeng-Lephephe.
The wave of red in the south was influenced by President Masisi who took over the leadership of the ruling party 18 months ago. Many observers are of the view that the victory demonstrates the confidence the voters have on President Masisi to turn around the fortunes of the country after reports of widespread corruption and a non-responsive government. Masisi has vowed to deal with corruption, enforce rule of law, address poverty and unemployment among some of his key themes.
Also key in this election was the feud between President Masisi and his predecessor, Dr Ian Khama, who had made it his personal mission to unseat Masisi. This in the view of many earned Masisi substantial sympathy votes and they gave him a fresh mandate to lead the country for the next five years. The instructive win gives the BDP, which has been in power for 53 years, a chance to implement major constitutional, economic and developmental changes which President Masisi has promised will “change Botswana for the better, and propel it on a new growth path”.
Ever since President Masisi took over the party, there has been a consistent message of ‘the re-birth of the BDP’ and it is evident from the results that voters have been attracted to the new BDP hence they rejected the opposition alternative that promised to deliver 100 000 in 12 months, P3000 minimum wage, P1500 old age pension and P2500 tertiary students allowance among other goodies. President Masisi has resisted calls for him to set targets for himself during the election campaign trail.
The BDP’s big jump in popular vote is ascribed to the decision by the leader of the UDC, Duma Boko to associate himself with the former President, Dr Ian Khama who was very unpopular in urban centres and most areas with close proximity to the capital city Gaborone. The BDP scored huge victories in all these areas. On the flip though the Khama influence was evident in the central district where his BPF managed to win 3 Serowe constituencies and further hurt the chances of the BDP in Palapye, Mahalapye East and Mahalapye West, Bobonong, Shoshong and Tonota constituencies.
This is what President Masisi said as it appears on the BDP’s social media page, “Batswana, thank you for voting BDP! I am humbled and honoured that you again entrusted the BDP with your confidence and mandate to uplift the lives of our people and to strengthen our country. As the President of Botswana for the next five years, I am blessed and privileged to serve you and I promise you that I will continue to do so with integrity, compassion, humility and honesty.
“When we created our 15-point manifesto more than a year ago, it was in consultation with you to discuss your fears and concerns but more so your hopes and dreams. Our manifesto addresses all your concerns in a sensible, practical and efficient manner that takes into account our current economic conditions but also considers future economic development and prosperity. I can assure you that my team and I are unabated in our commitment to you and will work relentlessly to ensure that every goal listed in our declaration is achieved and importantly, that you attain financial freedom,” President Masisi said of the BDP’s victory.
“The BDP-led government will lead the country on a renewed path of economic transformation and create jobs that will roll back the scourge of poverty, through various initiatives as outlined in our growth strategy, which will focus on increasing employment opportunities and creating suitable jobs for our young people, particularly our graduates,” he continued. He further appealed to opposition leaders to accept the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision which clearly saw the BDP as the nation’s preferred political party of choice.
“As the Leader of State, I appeal to the opposition leaders and their supporters to accept the BIEC ruling and to bear in mind that Botswana is a peaceful, non-violent, respectful and humble nation and that political interference to change our culture for political gain will not be tolerated,” President Masisi added. “I appreciate that it is vital for any country to have strong political opposition to ensure the ruling party is kept on its toes to that ensure that Botswana and her people are always government’s main priority. Under my leadership, I appeal to government, as a multi-party collective, to play a far greater role in supporting, developing and uplifting Batswana. By putting our people first, Botswana will soon claim its rightful position as the gem of Africa,” concluded President Masisi.
The BDP manifesto, which will continue to be seen as a blueprint for Botswana’s development, includes: Creating meaningful and sustainable jobs; Fighting corruption; Nurturing inclusive government; Guaranteeing free media; Reviewing our constitution and policies; Improving education and training; Driving knowledge-based economy; Growing the private sector; Empowering SMEs; Updating land tenure laws; Improving working conditions; Ensuring robust services delivery; Providing quality healthcare; Revamping social development; and Attracting local and international investors.
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.