The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has met the October 18th deadline set by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to show course why they should not be suspended from the organisation. But in their response signed by the part secretary general, Gilbert Mangole, the BMD is defiant, hostile and promising “a fight to the bitter end.”
“We again place on record that the BMD does not accept the suspension conveyed by your letter as, not only is its purport unlawful, it is also entirely baseless,” reads the response from BMD. In the response the Sidney Pilane led party says “it raises technical grounds vitiating the decision to suspend and possibly expel the BMD from the UDC.”
Gilbert Mangole put forward a foundation to the response: “It is public knowledge that the decisions to suspend and expel were long made in informal bilateral meetings between the BCP and the BNF, and that the meetings past and the forthcoming meetings as well as correspondence entered into are mere formalities to give the appearance of some process, however illegal.”
Raising what he calls technical grounds, Mangole hinges into the UDC constitution which he says governs its affairs , he states that the founding members of the UDC are the BMD, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). As for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Mangole is expressly clear that they are not a member of the UDC. “The BCP sought membership of the UDC…by process of negotiation.
Terms of their entry into membership of the UDC, including a new constitution and the division of constituencies, were agreed subject to all four parties executing written Memorandum of Agreement. A Transitional Team on which all four parties were to have equal representation was charged to incorporate a few changes that had been made to the Constitution drafted by the Stream and to draft the Memorandum of agreement aforesaid,” writes Mangole.
According to Mangole, the BCP expressly refused to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, which proceeded without the BCP and prepared an agreement aforesaid. “Documentary proof of the BCP’s refusal and of the existence of the written Agreement we have in our possession and will employ in the event of what seems to be certain litigation that will follow any attempt by you to implement decisions hostile to the BMD which you have already taken,” he writes to Duma Boko, the President of the UDC.
Mangole further claims that BCP’s refusal to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, and to sign the Agreement aforesaid, made it impossible to follow the constitutional process and the process required by the Societies Act which would have resulted in the BCP becoming a member in law of the UDC. The BMD secretary general says his president, Pilane described the process in detail in a presentation he made to the first meeting of the informal “NEC” of the UDC which he attended following the Movement’s Bobonong Congress. “Accordingly, the BCP is not and has not, at any time, become a member of the UDC.”
Mangole and his colleagues at the BMD are of the view that “the BCP may in consequence, not attend any lawful meetings of the UDC in the future nor participate in any decisions that the UDC might take. It need hardly be mentioned that no decision made by the UDC in the past, including the decision to suspend the BMD from the UDC made on 25 September 2018, in the presence of representatives of the BCP and in which they participated is lawful.”
He writes, “The BCP’s presence and its participation by representation at the meeting of 25 September 2018 during which the decision to suspend the BMD was taken vitiates any and all decisions made at that meeting.” Mangole’s letter further indicates that the presence of the BCP by representation in any future meetings of the UDC and its participation in those meetings and decisions made thereat will vitiate those meetings and all the decisions they may take.
BMD CLAIMS SUPPORT FROM BPP
Further in their response the BMD states that the BPP was represented at the meeting of 25 September 2018 at which the decision to suspend the BMD, “and to require us to show cause, was made.” “The BPP inform us that they had not been invited to that meeting, nor had they noticed that it was intended to make decisions conveyed by your letter of suspension dated 26 September 2018 at the meeting.
The BPP further inform us that Otlaadisa Otlaadisa, who may have been present at the meeting of 25 September 2018, and who may participated in the decisions in that meeting made, including the decision to suspend the BMD and to require us to show cause, was not authorized to attend that meeting and had not been given authority to support those decisions on behalf of the BPP.” According to Mangole, the BPP maintains that they are opposed to all the decisions which were made at the meeting of 25th September 2018.
BMD QUESTIONS THE NEC COMPOSITION
The BMD is also questioning the structure that met on 25 September 2018 and took decisions adverse to the BMD. Mangole posits that the structure that met on that date is not a structure of the UDC by reason, inter alia, of its composition and the manner by which it came into existence. “That it is loosely described as the NEC of the UDC does not make it so as that is a matter of law.”
“Accordingly, the “NEC” that met and took the decisions it did on 25 September 2018, and may do so in future, is not a structure of the UDC and was not and is not authorized to make decisions for and of the UDC.” Mangole and his team further question the quorum of the “NEC”, “Even if the structure that met and made the decisions it did on 25 September 2018 was a lawful structure of the UDC, which it was not then and is not now and will, without more, not be in the future, the absence of the BMD and the BPP rendered the meeting of 25 September 2018 no-quorate.”
Therefore, Mangole writes, “the BMD was, on 25 September 2018 and remains, a member of the UDC and was and is entitled to be invited to and to participate in meetings of and to participate in decisions that the UDC makes.” He states that there is no lawful basis for not inviting the BMD to UDC meetings. “The deliberate decision to not invite the BMD to the meeting of 25 September 2018 would, were that meeting lawful, vitiate that meeting and the decisions it took.” The BMD is of the view that it was suspended without due process albeit there are no grounds for suspension because no evidence substantiating the accusations has been furnished “a written request notwithstanding and that makes it impossible to answer meaningfully.”
BMD DEFENDS PILANE
Mangole also takes time defending Sidney Pilane against the allegations levelled against him. He says the president of the BMD has not, at anytime and anywhere, made any divisive and or toxic/ pronouncements as alleged. “Our president has not made any pronouncements out of turn, nor has he done anything that required the sanction and authority of the UDC without such authority.”
“Our president has not painted the alleged or any other picture of the UDC, nor has he ever said or done anything adverse to the UDC,” writes Mangole. The BMD also deny charges that Pilane disparaged the UDC, and that he has been uncooperative. They further indicate that Pilane has not tarnished or put the name of the UDC into disrepute.
Mangole writes that the BMD has honoured all bilaterals requested of them. “We did with the BCP in respect of Maun West and Francistown West, and we did with the BPP as concerns Francistown West. The BNF has never asked us for a bilateral. What they have done was request us to meet with them to negotiate who, between the BMD and the BNF, should present parliamentary candidates in Moshupa-Manyana and Lentsweletau Mmopane constituencies.
This was not an invitation to hold a bilateral; it was one to re-open negotiations to divide constituencies when the process had long been concluded with those constituencies being allocated to the BMD. Only BCP had sought Lentsweletau Mmopane but yielded to the BMD.” Mangole says all accusations levelled against them as a party and those against their president are without substance.
In conclusion the BMD secretary general says, “The reasons for suspending the BMD, and contemplating its expulsion, are false and contrived, and are an unlawful stratagem to steal BMD constituencies.” He sayd the the BCP and the BNF July 2018 conferences both separately but conspiratorially resolved on unlawful strategies to steal BMD’s constituencies from it.
Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.
The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.
The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh
The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.
It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.
The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.
Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.
Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.
For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.
Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.
The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.
The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.
In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.
This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.
The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.
These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.
Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.
Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.
According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.
It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.
Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.
Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.
For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.
However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”
The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.
“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.
These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.
“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.
With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.
The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.
Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.
The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.
In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.
According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.
Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.
Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.
Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.
It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.
The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.
Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.
Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.
This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.
The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.
The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.
After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.
At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.
The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.
A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.
Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”
Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.
At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019. It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.
In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.
“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.