More than 800 refugees and children who have never lived in Namibia have been given 28 days from today to have registered for voluntary repatriation back to their indigenous country, failure in which the government of Botswana will forcibly repatriate them.
The idea to repatriate the Namibians comes after their refugee status lapsed when the cessation clause was invoked in 2015. The refugees were given up to the 11th of July last year to have registered for repatriation to their country of origin which they refused. Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi told them then that failure to comply will result in them being declared illegal immigrants. “You are not refugees, nor are you guests of the government of Botswana,” he said.
The Namibians then through the courts of law interdicted their repatriation. They contended that the repatriation process lacked the assurances and the reasons for which they fled their country in the late 90s. According to Kgathi, the environment is now conducive for them to return home to participate in the socio-economic, cultural and political arena of their home country.
Last week however the government won an appeal in which they wanted the Namibians to go back home. Already the government has issued a Caprivians with correspondence that they will have to register for voluntary repatriation before end of this month. “The minister is expected to meet them at the end of this month. But for now the decision has been taken that they register for the voluntary repatriation. The plan is, by beginning of September the process of ferrying them back to Namibia should start.
Failure to register for the repatriation will see them now being forced back to Namibia through the immigration law, because they will no longer be refugees but rather immigration laws will preside by being detained at the center of illegal immigrants before being deported back,” a source from government enclave told this publication. Unlike last year, this time the refugees will only be provided with transport and foot in transit and will not be given any incentives.
“UNHCR will not avail any of those incentives offered in the past because they did that in goodwill not like they are entitled to those. Last year they could have got $300, basic building materials and food rations for the time being as they settle but this time around there will not be any of those,” added the informant on Thursday morning. Efforts to contact UNHCR head of mission in Botswana Arvind Gupta were futile as he is said to be abroad.
NAMIBIANS VOW TO FIGHT GOV’T
Meanwhile the Caprivi community spokesperson, Felix Kakula has maintained that they are not going anywhere. “People have accepted the judgement as the wish of government, weak as we are, we have nothing to do, but we are not going to surrender to the Namibian government by voluntary repatriation. We are very disappointed with Botswana democracy at this point” he told WeekendPost.
Kakula has emphasized that they do not need anyone to tell them about the safety of Namibia adding that whoever does that should update them about the stand of Namibian government regarding the United Democratic Party (UDP). “The administration of President Geingob must tell us if we are welcome as UDP members back home then we will be more than happy to register and go just one day all of us. So that when we get there will be questions about the Caprivi Strip without fear,” he said.
He continued; “If Botswana send us by force without us registering then Namibia should open their prisons because immediately we arrive we will ask many questions regarding Caprivi Strip. So we have declared ourselves dead on this matter, either dying on the hands of Botswana if they so wish or die in the hands of oppressor who have killed many in cold blood and able to convince the world in the name of wisdom and politics.”
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.