The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lieutenant General Placid Diratsagae Segokgo has written to former President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama notifying him that he can no longer be allowed to use the Firing Ranges, Obstacle Cause and Animal Parks facilities at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) in Mogoditshane.
In a letter dated 14th June, 2019 the BDF Commander said: “Your Excellency, it has come to our attention that you continue to use the BDF Obstacle Cause at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane. Sir in keeping with the BDF policy to all retired members of the BDF and the general members of the public I write to inform you that this facility together with other facilities such as the Firing Ranges, and Animal Park shall no longer be available to yourself except with the express invitation of the BDF.”
Former President Khama is the former Commander of the armed forces and has served the army for more than 20 years before joining politics, nine of which he was the commander. Khama had enjoyed access to Botswana Defence Force facilities as the Vice President including flying the military aircrafts. The then President Festus Mogae came to his defence saying he [Khama] is a qualified Pilot and arrangements were made for him to continue using the aircrafts.
Khama then ascended to the Presidency on 1st April 2008 and he continued to access the BDF facilities at SSKB without any problems. Upon leaving Office of the President a year ago, former President Ian Khama said prior arrangements were made so that he continue to access the Obstacle Causes once a week to train for his fitness but said he never accessed both the Firing Ranges and the Animal Park ever since he left office.
“I notified both President Masisi and BDF Commander Placid Segokgo and it was agreed,” Khama told WeekendPost this week. Khama said he was shocked by the letter from the BDF Commander. “I wonder why it took him one year and two months to realise that. I have never visited the Animal Park or the Firing Ranges since I left office. I only visit the Obstacle Cause once a week to do my routine exercise,” he said. Khama also said to his surprise these facilities are open to the general public and wonders why he is being singled out.
“With my position as former president and commander of the armed forces, Patron of BDF Retired Officers, Patron of the Football team BDF XI I have a history with the Barracks,” he said. Khama said he has no doubts this has political connotations with regard to the recent political landscape in the country. The former President for the first time this year, he was not invited to the Fallen Heroes Day Commemoration in honour of massacre of soldiers at Lesoma village which took place while he was the deputy commander of the BDF.
Khama was quoted saying: “The way this kind of decision was taken, is very unusual. I would have been invited as former Commander of the army to participate in that event.” He said his routine exercises at BDF does not in anyhow interfere with the works of soldiers at the barracks. Khama said he trains alone and he is not at any risks but admit anything can happen. “If they are concerned about my safety then they did not mention it in the letter. Besides why would they worry now while I have been doing this as a sitting President, why now,” Khama sked rhetorically.
The former President said through his Private Secretary, he wrote back to the Commander Segokgo to correct some of the misconceptions in his letter. Asked what action he will take Khama said, “In the letter it is clear they don’t want me there so I will stop.” In 2013 during his presidency Khama was scratched by a leopard on the face a bit. Khama's attacker was at the Botswana Defense Force Animal Awareness Park, which the Khama himself established in 1989 when he was a Lieutenant General in command of Botswana's armed forces.
He began the park to teach wild animal behaviour to soldiers who were being deployed to fight poachers killing rhinos and elephants. The park, which has been opened to the public and is a favourite outing for school children, now holds lions and leopards, crocodiles and snakes, monkeys, baboons and zebras.
Ian Khama was appointed as a brigadier general at age 24 in April 1977 during Sir Seretse Khama's Presidency, hence Deputy Commander to late former Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe, later serving as BDF Commander from 1989 until becoming Vice President in 1998. He then become the President of Botswana on 1st April 2008 leaving office in April 2018.
Upon leaving Office former President Ian Khama he had a fallout with his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi which led to him leaving the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to help form the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). Several attempts were made to reconcile the two men but the fallout escalated and the relationship became irreparable.
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.