Various political parties, amongst them the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), are lining-up to entice Lerala- Maunatlala Independent Parliamentary candidate, Prince Maele to join them.
Earlier this year, Maele and others were summoned by BDP to a disciplinary hearing where they were later slapped with a 12-month suspension from the party, which technically barred him from contesting the 2019 general elections under BDP. Maele was suspended over sentiments he echoed during a Kgotla meeting at Goo- Moremi where he declared his undying support for former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. This development occurred at the height of Masisi and Khama’s fallout, a development which was considered contempt by Masisi and the faction associated with him.
Maele’s relationship with Khama is an open secret with the latter currently attending Khama’s newly formed party Botswana Patriotic Party (BPF) rallies. The move to suspend Maele from BDP did not deter or bar him from contesting. He continued to engage with his constituents with the move to join one of the political parties more especially Khama’s BPF. However, constituents told him to contest as an Independent candidate, and later join a party of his choice after the general elections.
With the nation going for elections on Wednesday, Maele is considered among Independent candidates who may cause an upset, given the manner in which he was ejected from BDP and the support he gets from Khama. Parties have developed interest to lure the former Minister of Lands, Water and Sanitation. The allegations were confirmed by Maele to WeekendPost this week. “It is true, almost all political parties are charming me to join them. It’s like romantically persuading a girl into a relationship,” said Maele.
He also confirmed that his former party BDP have started talking to him in order to reconcile. Maele denied allegations that President Mokgweetsi Masisi also gave him monies amounting to P150, 000, 00 to boost his campaigns. “There is nothing like that, even other political parties when they talk to me they don’t offer anything or conditions. It is out of the love for politics,” he said. He further said he owes it to his constituents, saying he will continue to engage with them every step of his political career. Maele maintained that he is still loyal to his ‘Kgosikgolo’ Ian Khama and that they continue to work together. Maele was one of the speakers over the weekend in Serowe at Tshekedi Khama’s BPF launch.
After his suspension from BDP in April, Maele did not want to leave the party. He appealed his 12 months suspension but to no avail. Maele together with Samson Moyo Guma, were accused of working against party leader, Masisi and were regarded to be members of the so called ‘New Jerusalem’ faction of the BDP at the time. The move came on the eve of the ruling party’s manifesto launch, where President Masisi also launched the party’s Parliamentary candidates for the 2019 general elections.
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.