After the Women’s and Youth Wings of her own party distanced themselves from her candidacy, Dr. (Mrs.) Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has received support from far places, this week the African Youth Union Commission (AYUC) wrote to congratulate her on the Presidential bid and further encouraged her to continue bringing diversity to the democratic space like she did in her bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship.
The former Minister has expressed interest to challenge incumbent BDP leader, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi for the position of party president, a move that forced the President to drop her from cabinet. She has also been labelled a stooge sent by former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama to topple Masisi. Former President Khama has declared that he supports Venson-Moitoi’s bid for Presidency and said democracy should be allowed to take course.
In a letter addressed to Venson-Moitoi, the African Youth Union Commission (AYUC) notes, “We are hugely elated to have you here Madam, our very distinguished *Matron* extraordinaire of the African Youth Union Commission (AYUC).” “We cannot thank you enough for the moral support you have provided us, all reinforced in your interest in the young people of Africa; to be truly empowered and celebrated in their various fields of capacities. While as a Minister in the Present Cabinet in Botswana, we were satisfied by your commitment towards uplifting women and youth, particularly in your deliberate and conscious programmes that seek to address social and economic inequalities of Women and Youth in Botswana,” reads the letter penned by Dr Carl Oshodi, the chairperson of the AYUC .
Oshodi tells Venson-Moitoi that: “… as a Candidate for the AUC Chairperson in 2017, we also saw first-hand your Leadership and passion to take AFRICA to greater height through repositioning people oriented and pro-Africa reforms. This was adopted by President Paul Kagame as Chairperson of the African Union, a legacy and ideology you initiated. You are indeed a *Jinx* breaker and we at AYUC are proud to associate with you.”
Furthermore, Oshodi says as a Presidential nominee in the next Presidential bid in Botswana, they pray for the good people of Botswana to be passionate enough to see through pedestrian politics, into the passion Venson-Moitoi has for an economically viable Botswana, premised on the people as a critical components for democracy, good governance, economic sustainability and freedom.
LOCALLY SHE WILL NEED ALL THE HELP
But those close to Venson-Moitoi locally indicate that she will need all the help she can get. They note that she has worked for difficult and different people for a long time. “Her view is that she can no longer watch in the hope that things will improve. So much talk, promise and commitment in vain… action and good old fashioned hard work is what we all need to see. I know she is the best for this role. I believe many do too.
She has always stepped aside for the greater good of the party. It’s an open secret that she disproved of Masisi as Vice President, and former President Khama had to convince her and Cabinet. Too many times she has been over looked. As she should have been Vice President then. But the fear of the tribalism argument overcame sense,” said a close associate of Venson-Moitoi.
Venson-Moitoi is of the view that Botswana has suffered the most for this. She says Botswaba needs leaders with proven track records aligned to the youth and young leaders of tomorrow. According to Venson-Moitoi Botswana needs a leader who is already respected in Africa and does not need to waste energy finding friends. “We need a leader in Botswana who is not known to shy away from work, taking on big issues or tackling governance short falls head on… The BDP must have more leaders like this within its ranks.”
However some are of the view that the BDP struggles to attract and worse still to retain leaders. This is because any differing voice is met with anger and victimization. “So many issues are settled in court outside of the Party’s own systems… have we lost so much faith in our structures and processes?… this party is sick… however what is positive is that it is not Dead! It can recover under the leadership of a sensible and experienced leader… Mma Vee will be amazing as President given the chance,” said a supporter of Venson’Moitoi’s bid who preferred anonymity. Her supporters posit that if she is not successful in her bid she will certainly have shaken the cage. “Hopefully enough so that this BDP can introspect and reflect. It has to be better. Botswana needs it to be.”
THE AU COMMISSION BID
Venson-Moitoi, then Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship in 2017 on the grounds that she has the expertise, qualifications and experience in both private and public sectors to serve as the next AUC Chairperson. Dr. Venson-Moitoi said she decided to seek election as the AUC chairperson so as to serve the continent. She said, "Africa cannot expect to be developed by anyone else but by her own people. This is not likely to happen if we do not offer ourselves for tasks that we may feel and know we have the capability to do."
Her campaign team covered every region on the continent, canvassing for votes. Her team comprised of Botswana's former President Festus Mogae and other legislators who have been making some diplomatic offensive to ask other States to vote for her. At the time Venson-Moitoi said, "My 40-year track record provides SADC and Africa with someone who has both private and public sector experience to deliver on Agenda 2063. I have the proven experience and nuanced insight to be able to make a most meaningful contribution and bring to the AU and its member states all that is required within this role."
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.