There is a strong belief and eventuality that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will hold the upcoming July elective congress without elections. This is only if the party structures and members could buy the idea which is sponsored by party Central Committee (CC) to consider a compromise as opposed to going for elections.
The BDP constitution, since 1995 reforms explicitly through article 29.1 that when the party is in power, the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the party called by Central Committee during every general elections year. However, ever since the reforms, none of the previous presidents have been challenged for party leadership, rather they have enjoyed the backing of the party structures and endorsed unopposed.
This is year, the tradition and the norm have been altered after former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi indicated her desire, as provided for by the constitution, to challenge the incumbent for the party presidency. Venson-Moitoi’s candidature comes in the wake of power struggle involving Masisi and his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama, a fallout which many believe may cost the ruling party power at the polls scheduled for October this year.
This has resulted in the pro-Masisi camp proposing for a compromise that will see Venson-Moitoi withdrawing from the race to support the incumbent. To make his intentions clear, Masisi has met with party’s regional chairperson to sell the idea. BDP which has been in power since independence finds itself fighting unusual battle of factions anchored on two influential axis-President Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama.
This has left the party polarised and even unsure of how to heal the deep wounds resulting from recent squabbles. However, the party as a way of addressing these wounds has managed to convince both the Youth Wing and the Women’s Wing not to have elections, but have congresses only were a list of compromise candidates will be endorsed. This decision is hailed as a step in the right direction but democrats believe the bigger picture is the national congress slated for July.
The 18 member central committee, sources say, has had phrases of ‘compromise and unity’ dominating most of their latest meetings. “The idea for now it is still at early stages, but the thought is why can’t we have a congress and not have elections. We have to ask from the members of the party about this because they own this party and can decide whatever they want. It is not like the suggestion of the CC is final,” shared a source this week.
It is said that despite being at the infancy stage, the party leadership is resolute that it is possible that the members will give the proposal thumb up. Already President Masisi had called a meeting with all the regional chairpersons to sell them this idea among other things. The meeting according to those who attended was a “routine gathering with the president to engage on a number of issues within the party and would not dwell much on the details as we still have to brief regional members,” said Gaborone region chairperson MacDonald Peloetletse.
Other democrats nonetheless say the meeting was purely to sell the idea to regional leaders who will share with their members before giving the leadership a reply. According to the drafted script for the congress, after all the formal requisites including the reports presentation, Masisi will then throw the idea before the members about compromise and not have elections. Should it pass it would leave the current committee holding the fort until 2021, if members disagree then elections will be on.
“The idea not to have elections is premised on the fact that we have elections this year and as a party aiming to win the elections convincingly we need to be united like never. It is well documented that after these kinds of events, punctuated with internal elections the party is left divided no matter the results,” said a chairperson who preferred to be masked said. “It is possible for that but if at all is there it will be discussed at the right forum because the members are the ones who can decide that,” Kweneng regional chairperson Motlhophi Leo said.
All the party chairperson this publication contacted are not ready to disclose the contents of the meeting saying they are still to share with party members whatever they discussed. For now President Masisi will become the first BDP sitting leader to be challenged at the congress. Long-time cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi has raised her hand for the same party presidency. The incumbent committee mostly dominated by “Cava” faction associates will face off with “New Jerusalem” which is still assembled behind the scenes, according to those closer to actions.
WeekendPost is informed that next weekend’s retreat in Palapye will be used to further test the waters as to whether all the party structures including veterans council could buy into that idea. “The retreat is intended to create dialogue on the preparation and readiness of the party for the 2019 general elections," a letter from party secretary general Mpho Balopi states. Former Presidents Khama and Festus Mogae have also been invited.
While the party is still optimistic that their suggestion will see the light of the day, it is expected to meet strong resistance. Those subscribing to the ‘New Jerusalem’ are hell bent to ensure that elections go on as per the constitution. According to those pro-Venson-Moitoi, this decision is a tactical move by the incumbent committee to block dissenting voices, which means eroding democratic principles the party is synonymous with. On the other hand others believe this would bring peace and tranquillity to the party especially considering how politically tedious 2019 would be. Balopi in a very brief interview yesterday [yesterday] before leaving for Dominican Republic said; “It is not true, we have never hinted that.”
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.