Scores high ranking public service officials including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lt Gen Placid Segokgo and the Botswana Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe — will be forced to leave the public service at the mandatory retirement age of 55 and 60 years.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have reminded the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi not to extent contracts of senior public officials who are in the afternoons of their lives. Masisi’s decision to follow the Public Service Act to the letter will affect mostly the defense and security fraternity as a number of high ranking officials are expected to leave their offices. The decision comes at a time when the new administration wants to phase out a number of officials who are linked to the past leadership.
Already a number of names that captained a number of institutions and ministries are likely to be swept out as Masisi also wants his new loyal brigade that will ensure his modus operandi is implemented. While it is clearly enshrined in the Public Service Act that retirement age is at the age of 60 years, the government has on many instances offered contracts to some senior official who had reached the age — this will now be history under Masisi’s administration.
Masisi, according to informant has made it known to Morupisi that whatever the qualification or skills one possesses the Public Service Act should be followed to the letter. This is intended to give other upcoming officers chance to rise through the leadership ladder. “It is clear in the Public Service Act that when you reach 60 you retire, so it is not like Masisi is imposing that. It has always been there,” Morupisi said briefly when asked about this.
It is said even to those with needed skills will not be renewed unlike in the past system. “However they could only be roped in as consultants to assist the government,” explains a highly placed source within the government. Transfers of senior officials will also be minimal as the inter-ministerial movements and parastatal will mostly be dominated by more junior officers. “President argues as to what new intellect or thinking they will bring if they are moved across institutions,” added a source.
Already a source highlights that Masisi was instrumental in ejecting former Ministry of Defense Justice and Security Permanent Secretary Segakweng Tsiane who reached the mandatory retirement age last year September. “There was extension which Masisi long said should be scrapped but after considering a number of factors it was decided that she leaves at the end of the financial year (March 31st). Permanent Secretary to the President Morupisi issued a press release stating that Matshidiso Bokole was appointed on promotion as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security with effect from 01st April 2019.
Reports however continue to maintain that the dreaded axe is also coming to others including the current Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Commander Lt Gen Placid Segokgo. Segokgo was aged 53 when he assumed BDF high office in 2016 and he is currently 56, a year above the disciplined forces’ mandatory retirement age of 55. His contract is yet to be fully extended by the head of state and an informant says it will not be. Lt Gen Segokgo is likely to be one of BDF commanders to have served the shortest of periods as commander of the army.
Retired Lt Gen Gaolatlhe Galebotswe served as BDF commander for the four years. Retired Lt Gen Tebogo Masire is the only BDF commander to have his contract extended by the President. Masire took over from Lieutenant General Matshwenyego Fisher in 2006 and his contract was extended for two years when he reached the retirement age of 55. The soft spoken Botswana Police Commissioner (BPS) Keabetswe Makgophe is another name facing the chop. He is currently 57 years, two more years after reaching the retirement age of 55. Already the government is running helter skelter to find Makgophe’s replacement but sources highlight one name, Tapudzani Gabolekwe who is the Assistant Commissioner.
Makgophe replaced the then Police Commissioner, Thebeyame Tsimako, whose contract was extended. Makgophe’s appointment came after the former deputy commissioner, Kenny Kapinga, was redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an ambassador. By far government through PSP has made two transfer and redeployments of Brigadier Joseph Mathambo who has been appointed as Director General, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) from the 02nd April 2019. On the other hand Victor Paledi is transferred to the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security as the Secretary Defence Justice and Security from 02nd April 2019.More deployments and transfers are expected after Kang congress, reports say.
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.