The South African Constitutional Court’s ruling to legalise marijuana will have a negative impact on Botswana’s fight against drug abuse, Botswana Police Service Crime Intelligence Director and Senior Assistant Commissioner, Nunu Lesetedi conceded.
Towards the end of last year, Lesetedi has been the top police intelligence officer at the helm of publicised Botswana Police drug bust mission to sweep out the country’s drug dealers. With close to four decades experience in the police service, Lesetedi spearheaded the crusade to embark on war against drug abuse, but it proved to be a gruelling and dangerous campaign coming with death threats.
Another challenge has now emerged according to Lesetedi, the legalisation of marijuana by neighbouring South Africa’s Constitutional Court which will make his drug bust crusade uncontrollable or handful, especially the police cross border operations. Lesetedi has referred to marijuana as the most used drugs and the police statistics shows the same too. In his televised drug bust, Lesetedi has previously that illegal drugs mostly come into the country from Swaziland, South Africa and other foreign drug dealers.
He once told the state owned Botswana Television that foreign traders are working hand in hand with local consumers. “It’s going to have an impact on us; we will definitely see an increase in the usage. South Africa is our neighbouring country,” Lesetedi said in a brief interview with Weekend Post. However, Lesetedi told this publication that he could not comment further on the matter since he is still studying the judgement and yet to seek legal advice on the matter.
Asked whether it might be time for Botswana to also consider legalisation of marijuana, Lesetedi indicated that only the Parliament has the power to decide whether to legalize marijuana or not. Marijuana legalisation debate has proved to be a hot potato in this country during the years.
Recently, the opposition led a debate which sought to make a law which will legalise the medicinal use of marijuana but the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with its majority shot down the attempt. Some Batswana including Bakgatla Paramount Chief Kgafela Kgafela have for a considerable time advocated for the legalisation of dagga. Kgafela like opposition politician said dagga has a medicinal value as it could fight diseases like asthma. Last week Ministry of Health and Wellness Permanent Secretary Ruth Maphorisa told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that they will consider use of dagga for medicinal purposes subject to parliamentary approval.
Before the recent landslide South African Constitutional Court ruling, a lower court judgement had legalised the use of dagga. The ConCourt, as it is known, this week upheld the lower court’s judgement of legalisation of cannabis. The South African government had tried to argue that cannabis is not in line with South Africa’s constitutional value and could harm citizens.
The ruling allows adults to consume marijuana privately and to grow it for self-consumption. The constitutional court ruling also focuses on the issue of privacy and the right of a person to do as they please in their own home. However, what remains illegal is the selling of marijuana to others or smoking it outside the confines of your own home. Possession and growing of marijuana in large bulk is also prohibited.
The official line is that adults are allowed to grow, use and cultivate the substance on their own property. Everything else-including the potential for sin taxes and “the where and when” of how users can buy dagga must be outlined by the government.
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.