Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi is at the receiving end of the backlash, with some democrats accusing him of behaving in a manner that is likely to cost the party in next year general elections.
In an extra-ordinary year, BDP is scheduled to meet twice in congress; first for the Special Congress convened specifically for the purpose of electing and endorsing party president, as provided for by the party constitution— and secondly for the party’s biennial ordinary congress. It is reported that one time party chairman Samson Guma, will next year take his former ally for the position of secretary general. It is believed that Guma’s intentions are giving Balopi a sleepless night.
“There are talks that the man [Balopi] harbors to become the next vice president after 2019, replacing Slumber [Tsogwane]. Those close to Tsogwane should pinch him, because he will not see what hits him down,” warned a source close to developments. Balopi is also blamed for acting in a manner that have worsened the relationship between Masisi and former president, Lt Gen Ian Khama.
“If you analyse things well, Balopi has a hand in the war between the two. His first punch was to suspend Khama man, Tshepang Mabaila for five years. Secondly, he never invites the former President at any BDP event. Clearly, he up to something,” the sourced indicated. Few days ago, Khama openly hit on Balopi whom he believed has joined forces to undermine him. Khama cast aspersions on Balopi pedigree to win a constituency currently occupied by opposition.
“Even if he is vying for the presidency, he still needs to work hard because he needs people to follow him,”Khama told Weekend Post. “During my time we had a very good relationship but I don’t know why because of 1st April things changed. Even if I am not in the structures anymore but we can still continue enjoying the good relationship. If that is his objective it is going to be a hard thing, it will be difficult for him.”
Khama said right now the BDP is looking forward to postponing the elective congress next year but they can’t do that because that will be unconstitutional. “What interests me is that some of them I will not mention by name whose names are linked to the postponement are the same people who were commending me to abide by the constitution and not try to extend my term in office, they said I am a soldier and will not vacate the office but these are the same people who are said to be the ones who wants to change the BDP constitution so it can accommodate them,” Khama said.
Sources believed Balopi has failed to reinvent himself after past failures, and heading to 2019 general elections, BDP could be headed for more trouble under his guidance as head of secretariat. “After all, Democrats should find peace in that, The SG is not that a good game player on his own. He has surrounded himself with people with little or no political capital, which will work against him in the coming congress against Guma Moyo.”
Those who are against Balopi content that the BDP 2013 Primary elections and ultimately 2014 general elections would have taught democrats a lesson on who to vote into the secretariat office of BDP Central Committee in 2017. Balopi returned to the secretary general position at last year’s party congress when he contested under the invisible Masisi slate, which won all Central Committee positions.
In 2014, the BDP for the very first time since its inception registered a popular vote below 50 percent, garnering 46.7 percent of popular vote. Sources at Tsholetsa house blame Balopi for the mess which followed the 2018 primary elections, in which at 42 parliamentary candidates did not accept elections result citing irregularities.
“In 2013, just like now, the BDP bulela ditswe was marred with controversies and so many re-runs, it was the same bulela ditswe that bore fruit to so many independent candidates then; unhappy democrats who felt the party did not take into consideration their frustrations and efforts who then decided to vote against the BDP,” the sourced argued.
Reports indicate that political savvy candidate in the mold of Guma has identified that his rival, Balopi is politically weak, and his survival at the helm of BDP structures has been mostly been out of fortunate association with the right people. Balopi was a nonentity in political circles when he rose to stardom in 2011, replacing Kentse Rammidi as the party secretary general following the latter’s abrupt resignation from the party few months after assuming the position.
Balopi had been co-opted into the Central Committee by Khama at the 2011 BDP congress. In 2013, Balopi and his then business partners; Guma and Thapelo Olopeng took over control of the BDP Central Committee. The three men have since moved in operate directions. Last year ahead of Tonota Congress, Balopi showed-up at the eleventh-hour a slate involving Nkate as Secretary General and Masisi as chairman failed to materialize following the former’s declarations for presidential ambitions. Balopi was then listed as Masisi camp candidate for secretary general and won.
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.