Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander Lt Gen Tebogo Masire, who is now a Member of Central Committee for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s trustee, has reportedly poured scorn on Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS)’s efforts to investigate him.
WeekendPost can reveal that the former BDF chief, Masire is a co- owner and major shareholder of Avante Security Services Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Avante). A few weeks back his business partner, Olebeng Ngwakwena became the latest victim of the law enforcement agencies when he was raided by BURS, DIS, and FIA. Ngwakwena is allegedly a close ally of former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama and his company provides private security to the former President’s retirement office.
DIS Director General Peter Magosi has confirmed that the trio of DIS, BURS and FIA raided the owner of Avante Securities but declined to comment on what was discovered. Magosi told this publication that they are still continuing with their investigations, and once finish, they will take all the perpetrators to court. The DIS chief however confirmed that they have made discoveries that will help their investigations. Ngwakwena’s properties were raided including the house that he long abandoned after his wife was murdered by the maid a few years back.
A close source told WeekendPost that, it was such a traumatising experience for Ngwakwena, because visiting that house brings back memories of his murdered wife but the DIS cared less. It is alleged that after Ngwakwena’s raid, the state agencies then tried to raid a co- owner Masire, but he sent them back and they obliged, a source said. After he retired from the BDF, Masire became an active member of the BDP. Masire is currently the Member of BDP Central Committee (additional) responsible for Gaborone Region.
The retired General is also one of President Masisi’s trustees and advisors according to a close source. Masire worked with the President’s elder brother, Brigadier Thulaganyo Masisi in the military and they remained very close. According to their profile, Avante Security Services Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Avante) is a wholly owned Batswana company, was founded on a heritage of trust and reputation by its sole founder Olebeng Ngwakwena, a specialist in business intelligence and security consultancy.
The company has Head Office in Gaborone in Botswana, and satellite offices in Randburg and Cape Town in South Africa, coupled with strategic network in Botswana and South Africa as well as the rest of the world. Their services include asset protection, security consultancy, investigations, business and operational intelligence, security assessment, due diligence, logistics including armoured car transportation, security assessment and monitoring, risk assessment and management, guarding services, training, design and project management.
Avante specialises in the asset protection, secure transportation and handling of valuable goods throughout the logistics chains, from raw materials and components finished products as well as secure cargo within the mining, precious metals including diamonds and cash management for banking and retail sectors. They are currently contracted to provide security and consultancy services to major clients including Hall of Diamonds Botswana (holder of both Precious Stone Dealers and Diamond Cutting licences in Botswana), MalcaAmit and Ram Couriers International based at Diamond Technology Park, Gaborone as well as mining companies in Botswana just to mention but a few.
Meanwhile General Masire denied any involvement with Avante Security. “I know the owner, Ngwakwena but I am not in anyhow involved in any business dealings with him. That is part of a smear campaign aimed at de- campaigning President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Who am I to question law enforcement officials when they want to investigate me? That is not only baseless but stupid,” said Masire. When reached for comment, Ngwakwena said he did not want to comment on anything concerning Avante Security. He said if the need arises they will release a press statement on the position of the company.
After taking office, Masisi pronounced that fighting corruption is his number one priority. In the wake of dawn, BURS, Financial intelligence Agency (FIA) and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) has however been accused of anti- BDP and former President Khama’s close allies and raided them. In one of the high profile arrest, the former Director General of DIS Col Isaac Kgosi was arrested on his arrival from overseas at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA), in Gaborone. Members of opposition parties criticized Masisi for what they viewed as using control of state agencies to fight political battles.
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.