President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ian Stuart Kirby has persuaded prominent and high educated residents of Gaborone North to amicably settle the standpipe dispute instead of fighting it out in court.
The case involves public figures in opposing camps including law maker for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa, former cabinet minister Tebelelo Seretse, Botswana Police Service spokesperson Christopher Mbulawa, Village Chief Magistrate Linah Mokibe-Oahile and other prominent attorneys living in the area. It is understood that at the centre of the dispute is the ownership and management of a water standpipe that provides portable water to the Gaborone North and Moshawa community.
Kirby was surprised that the high ranking personnel living in the suburban area of Gaborone North shockingly and astonishingly failed to resolve the dispute involving the use of the lucrative standpipe meant to supply the area. Gaborone North currently banks on the standpipe for water supply and it is said that the Trust accrues over P1.5 million yearly through use of the standpipe as there is domestic water connection/reticulation deficiencies in the area.
Kirby stated this week during the Court of Appeal session in the matter which has been dragging before court for years that “I am surprised that the town (Gaborone North) is split in high ranking and highly educated people but cannot solve this matter.” The Judge President had a word for both attorneys, as they were about to make arguments in the appeal, who he said are the biggest winners in the case, while the residents continue to suffer, persuading them to at least amicably resolve the issue – without a tedious and dragging court process.
The attorneys then came to their heads and drafted an order which was then handed over to the three empanelled Judges led by Kirby comprising Singh Lackvinda Walia as well as Zibani Makhwade that eventually settled the matter. It was as a result ordered that; “the parties agree that the existing primary pipeline constructed by Moshawa Water Development Trust and Kgosi Residency (Pty) Ltd shall be accessible to all residents of Moshawa” which eventually is expected to bring all the warring factions together.
It was also ordered that the management committee shall open a new bank account, once the handover has been completed, for purposes of management of the standpipe and the water reticulation project. In addition the parties agreed that the High Court action for the recovery of 1.5 million pula case be withdrawn.
The order also stated: “the Gaborone North Moshawa Community Trust shall hand all the monies generated from the standpipe, all relevant documents, including audited financial statements, as well as the management and control of the standpipe as well as the water reticulation project to the management committee within 60 days.”
Furthermore, Gaborone North/Moshawa Community Development Trust as well as the Moshawa Water Development Trust shall each nominate two representatives, at the management committee, to manage the standpipe situated at Moshawa for the benefit of the community, as well as to complete the water reticulation project at Moshawa, including ongoing works.
In the controversial court matter, former Botswana television (BTV) Executive producer and commissioning Editor, Linet Habana together with Siphiwe Mathendele and Khotso Lebatha were appealing the High Court judgement that interdicted and restraint them from performing their roles in the Moshawa Community Development Trust (respondents) which oversees the multimillion money-spinning standpipe. In the case Unoda Mack and Obrien Bvindi represented the appellants while Uyapo Ndadi stood in for the respondents, Gaborone North/Moshawa Community Development Trust.
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.