Former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama said even though he has supported the current arrangement of automatic succession of the state presidency, the time has now come to review and amend it.
The former President said the issue is not new to him, it was first brought to his attention by some members of the opposition party and later by his party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) back in 2008 when he assumed the presidency. General Khama said even though he does not support direct election of the president he is of the view that a democratic arrangement has to be made when a president’s term comes to an end so that the party can be able to elect the country’s next president.
He says the current system of automatic succession can be applicable when one dies in office or resigns and other circumstances. “This is not my idea but opinions raised by democrats during my stay in power. I have always thought it’s a good idea and I personally support it,” he said. Khama is of the view that automatic succession is good for smooth transition of power. However,he said certain provisions under clause should be re-examined precisely with reference to when the sitting President’s term comes to end.
“We all know why the provision was introduced but we are still stuck there today,” he said. Some democrats believe the automatic succession was engineered by Masire to safe guard Festus Mogae’s interests at a time when Ponatshego Kedikilwe was perceived to be the party’s natural heir to the throne. The former president says even though the issue of direct election of the president looks eminent at the moment, his fear is, it has its own repercussions. “In this set-up, a president can win elections while his own cabinet comes from the opposition and to me that will delay progress. However that comes with a very cognizable arrangement where Ministers can be nominated from outside parliament which is good move,” he said.
ON HIS KGOTLA MEETINGS AND CHARITY WORK
On the issue of addressing Kgotla meetings around the country, Khama said, “to say I should stop is impossible.” He said this is his outreach program where he continues his charitable cause. “I made a pledge not to abandon Batswana when I bid them farewell and that’s exactly what I am doing. I cannot pull a Putin strategy and come back to power,” said khama. Khama said currently he is not involved in the running of the government and allegations that he is a stumbling block in President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration are hearsay spread by some of Masisi’s supporters.
He said actually it is Masisi and his Permanent Secretary Carter Morupisi who continue to make life difficult for him. “They continue to take staff from me, refuse with air transport and continue to pen down more press releases on my name. Khama who was in Moshupa on Thursday to donate a house and donate P20 000 towards the development of Kgotla shelter suffered another sabotage when public officers were instructed not to attend the meeting and the beneficiary of the house was nowhere to be found.
He said he is a true democrat and believe in exercising his democratic rights. “I will never tell Bangwato not to welcome Masisi in their Kgotla, as much as they welcome him I am fine with it. To tell people to do that will be a Mugabe style,” he said. Addressing remarks made by former President Festus Mogae against him, Khama said Mogae is entitled to his own opinion. Mogae is quoted in The Voice newspaper saying Khama has failed to unite the party and he regrets bringing him to BDP.
Khama said as much as he know, he has achieved whatever he was brought to do at the BDP but since his departure the party is now in disarray and continue to sink in factions at the helm of the current leader. “The reason why I pronounced my support for Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi is not to divide the party, but I believe she is capable of bringing stability and dissolve the factions,” he said.
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.